2 February, 15:35

Russia may quit START III after US deploys destroyer in Europe

Russia may quit START III after US deploys destroyer in Europe

If the US continues to boost its anti-missile capabilities through developing missile defense system in Europe, Russia may have no other option but to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), warns the Russian Foreign Ministry’s top disarmament official, Mikhail Ulyanov. The news comes as the US's  ballistic missile defense destroyer has been deployed in Spain to strengthen NATO’s anti-missile shield in Europe.

The move, allegedly aimed at neutralizing the Iranian threat, has sparked polemics about Russia's possible withdrawal from the START nuclear treaty.

Deployment of the Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis shipboard integrated combat weapons system, was announced by the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Munich Security Conference.

"An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran,” Hagel said, adding that the US is committed “to deploying missile defense architecture there,” as a part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).

Hagel also said that over the next two years, three additional Aegis-enabled missile defense-capable destroyers will join NATO forces in protecting the European continent.

"We are concerned that the US is continuing to build up missile defense capability without considering the interests and concerns of Russia,” Ulyanov told Interfax. "Such a policy can undermine strategic stability and lead to a situation where Russia will be forced to exercise [its] right of withdrawal from the [START] treaty.”

Ulyanov said that the legal basis for Moscow scraping the START treaty is legislated for within the text of the agreement, which Russia says it has so far fully implemented. In certain exceptional cases, involving a known threat to national security, both Russia and the US have the option to quit the treaty.

"As at September last year Russia had 473 deployed carriers with 1,400 warheads, the USA - 809 and 1,688 respectively. The figures are constantly changing - there are reductions in some places and increases are possible in others. The main thing is to reach set levels by the agreed date," he said in an interview with Interfax.

He reminded Interfax that START III implies that the sides should reach the level of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and heavy bombers (HB), 1,550 warheads on them and 800 deployed or undeployed launchers of ICBM, SLBM and HB in seven years after its enforcement, i.e. in 2018.

"No intermediate stages are implied. This gives the sides the possibility to flexibly build programs, adapting their strategic potential to the requirements of the treaty," Ulyanov said.Besides, the treaty is not limited to the ceilings. "In fact only eight lines in a package of over 300 pages consisting of the treaty, protocol and addenda deal with them," Ulyanov said."

Thus, the implementation of the new START Treaty is a much broader and more multifaceted task that the implementation of provisions of Article II. It is apparent already now that the sides will have their hands full even after 2018 when the levels stipulated by it are reached," Ulyanov concluded.

Russia won't diclose tactical nuclear weapon numbers or locations - Foreign Ministry

Russia does not intend to disclose information about the storage locations for its tactical nuclear weapons or about their amount, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry department for security and disarmament Mikhail Ulyanov has said.

"Yes, we are invited to adopt some confidence-building measures by disclosing the storage places of the armaments and their quantity. But whom will it make life easier for, if we disclose such information? Only for terrorists. Should we be creating problems there where they are absent so far?" he wondered in an interview with Interfax.

Commenting on the calls from the United States and NATO to reduce Russian tactical nuclear armaments Ulyanov said: "The subject of Russian tactical nuclear armament is far-fetched and fanned quite artificially".

"In the past 20 years Russia reduced its tactical nuclear armaments by 75%. All these armaments are deployed solely on Russian territory. They are stored at centralized  facilities, i.e. are not deployed and pose no threat to anyone," he said.

Meanwhile, "the situation is absolutely different with NATO and the Americans," he said." Approximately 200 tactical nuclear warheads are located in six countries of Europe and they are deployed. Which means they pose a potential threat to us," Ulyanov said.

"Moreover, NATO has such a notion as nuclear sharing which means that pilots from non-nuclear countries are trained to pilot nuclear-carrying aircraft," he went on to say. "From the viewpoint of nuclear nonproliferation this is a violation of the letter and sprit of the NPT. Many countries share this viewpoint," Ulyanov said.

"We are not refusing to conduct a dialogue but we don't see a subject for even a preliminary conversation until all these weapons are withdrawn beyond Europe and before the infrastructure that permits their rapid return to the European continent is liquidated," the diplomat said.

"The practice of the said exercises should also be stopped," he said.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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