Russia's Perspective on Arms Control World

Article excerpt

Speaking today at the 46th Munich Conference on Security Policy is for me a matter of emotional value at least for two reasons.

First, this is the tenth time I have the honour to be invited to the Conference and address the audience.

Second, although I have not yet decided in what form to claim Veteran benefits, I have already been rewarded by the possibility to cast a retrospective glance at how the political climate change has been reflected in Munich Conference findings.

I must admit that recent years have proved specifically productive for Munich Conference activity because it has coincided with the end of inter-bloc confrontation and creation of the atmosphere of confidence and partnership. This refers also to the prospects of comprehensive and complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Accordingly, more and more disarmament initiatives, such as the Hoover Initiative and the Global Zero Initiative, are being launched. Prominent public figures and politicians around the world are joining their effort under auspices of such organisations as the Luxembourg Forum and the Evans-Kawaguchi Commission.

Symptomatic shifts are also observed in the positions of certain states possessing nuclear weapons, including the USA, where plans are being developed to deploy strategic offensive arms in non- nuclear set-up.

Russia's strategic thinking is also being stepped up. Our point of departure is the assumption that nuclear weapons, while remaining the core element of strategic deterrence, cannot be regarded as a cure-all for the whole range of real threats and challenges. We believe that in future under certain conditions nuclear weapons may and should be eliminated. Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, has on several occasions referred to that both in his written address to the Conference on Disarmament in March, 2009 and speaking at the 64th session of the UN General Assembly in September same year.

Security and stability in the context of nuclear disarmament require establishment of relationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms. One cannot seriously talk about reduction in nuclear capabilities if a nuclear state consistently develops and deploys Systems aimed at providing its invulnerability to means of deterrence possessed by other states. lt is like a theory about a sword and a shield. Both are developing and one has to keep in mind the advantages of each of them.

Therefore, Russia supports a broader international dialogue on AMD (antimissile defense) issues and has made a considerable contribution to global efforts aimed at reducing nuclear weapons in the context of its commitments under INF Treaty (1987), START 1 (1991) and Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT, 2002).

Along with the Strategic offensive arms limitation, Russia has reduced by three quarters its tactical nuclear arsenals and concentrated them in central storage bases exclusively within its national territory.

Russia is committed to achieving nuclear disarmament by means of negotiations resulting in binding accords. We believe this to bring about meaningful, verifiable and, most importantly, irreversible arrangements taking due account of political, economic and military factors influencing international security and stability.

From this angle we view our strategic relations with the United States, too. For decades Moscow and Washington have been building a tight network of treaties and agreements related to Strategic offensive arms' reduction and limitation. This activity continues. As you know, Russian and American delegations have been instructed to finalize in the nearest future all technical work to be able to submit a new full scale and legally binding agreement for signing by the presidents of Russia and the United States.

lt is clear, that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility for the disarmament process. …