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Russia says missile defense buildup affects disarmament efforts

Unilateral buildup of strategic missile defense complicates the process of nuclear disarmament, Russia's envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said on Thursday.

NEW YORK, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Unilateral buildup of strategic missile defense complicates the process of nuclear disarmament, Russia's envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said on Thursday.

The U.S. is currently creating its strategic missile defense system, and has deployed missile defense bases and radars in Alaska and California, stationary radars in Greenland, the U.K. and Japan. It also has a number of sea-based radar systems.

U.S. President Barack Obama in September delayed the deployment of a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland until 2015. According to the Obama administration's new plan, land-based missile-defense shields will not be implemented before 2015. Sea-based defenses will be operating in the Mediterranean up to 2015.

"It is hard to imagine a situation, in which a significant reduction of nuclear arms is made simultaneously with missile defense buildup, designed to give military advantage to one of the parties," he said at a session of the UN General Assembly's committee on disarmament and international security.

Churkin reiterated that "strategic defensive and strategic offensive weapons are intertwined."

"That is why we continue to consistently oppose unilateral efforts in missile defense buildup. We are convinced that such actions seriously complicate progress in nuclear disarmament," Churkin said.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July in Moscow on the outline of a deal to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), which expires on December 5, including cutting their countries' nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

Russia says the link between strategic defensive and offensive weapons should be fixed in a new Russian-U.S. strategic arms reduction treaty, which is currently being drafted.

Churkin said that while preparing the treaty "we presume that enhancing the nuclear non-proliferation regime and stepping up the nuclear disarmament process are possible only amid strategic stability and equal security guarantees."

According to a report published by the U.S. State Department in April, as of January 1 Russia had 3,909 nuclear warheads and 814 delivery vehicles, including ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers. The same report said the United States had 5,576 warheads and 1,198 delivery vehicles.

He added that Russia was set to submit to the General Assembly a draft resolution on confidence building measures concerning in military space activities.

"The Russian side is firmly convinced that the space should not become the arena of a military conflict," he said.

Speaking about the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, on which Russia imposed a unilateral moratorium in December 2007, the Russian diplomat said the West should undertake specific obligations if it wants the moratorium to be lifted.

Russia has repeatedly said it will resume its participation in the CFE if NATO countries ratify the adapted version of the treaty, signed on November 19, 1999 and so far ratified only by Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

"It looks like our Western partners still expect Russia to make concessions in exchange to their promises to consider our concerns in future. We presume that instead of vague promises, the sides should make solid and explicit obligations in order to break the deadlock in the CFE talks," Churkin said.

Moscow considers the original CFE treaty, signed in December 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members, to be discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

Among other issues of security and stability in Europe, Churkin mentioned a pan-European security pact, proposed by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in June 2008.

"Russia invites all states and organizations, acting on the European continent, to take part in the joint work on the treaty. We need to agree on clear, modern and, above all, effective rules of the game," he said.


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