Russia's diplomat to the US has warned that arms control is” in crisis” and claimed that” some politicians and generals in Washington” were beginning to think in terms of winning a nuclear conflict.
Anatoly Antonov was speaking on the day Vladimir Putin followed Donald Trump's example in suspending participation in the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces( INF) treaty, which is due to expire altogether in August unless there is an 11 th-hour effort to save it.
That would leave the 2010 New Start treaty as the last constraint left on the US and Russian nuclear arsenals, and that agreement is due to expire in 2021. Moscow has signaled its willingness to extend New Start, but the Trump administration has said it has not yet made up its intellect on the issue.
” The situation in strategic stability as well as in arms control is very bad. We are in crisis ,” Antonov said at a rare public appearance in Washington since taking up his role as diplomat in August 2017.” Today, I'm scared that some politicians and generals in Washington, and maybe in other capitals, they start thinking about the possibility to be a winner in a nuclear war. I would like to use this opportunity to send a message that it is impossible to win a nuclear war .”
But Trump and Putin have unveiled any intention to attain significant upgrades to their nuclear arsenals, leading many advocates of disarmament to warn about the dangers of returning to a costly and dangerous arms race once the treaties expire.
Trump announced he was pulling the US out of the INF last October, citing longstanding US accusations that a new Russian weapon transgressed the limits imposed by the INF treaty, which was signed after a nuclear stalemate in Europe in the 1980 s between US and Soviet medium-range missiles.
Antonov did not address the allegations about the Russian rocket, which Moscow has previously denied. In his statements at the Stimson Centre, a Washington thinktank, Antonov held up maps he said were prepared by the Russian military which showed that much of European Russia and all of Europe would be within missile scope of each other, if the demise of the INF led to the deployment of new weapons on the continent.
” This is a very burning issue ,” the ambassador said.” We can return back to the situation before 1987 before we signed the treaty … We will be forced to deploy our rockets and here you will see that the whole territory of European countries will be covered .”
” Who is the loser ?” Antonov asked.” It is European countries as well as Russia. This is a new challenge to our security we will face, and very soon .”
He pointed to a meeting on Monday in Vienna, between the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Joseph Dunford, and his Russian counterpart, Gen Valery Gerasimov, as an example of how some military dialogue was still underway between the two nuclear powers.
The Russian embassy in the US said the two generals had has reviewed and considered the INF treaty and missile defence issues. Moscow claims that US missile defence systems in eastern Europe, meant to counter a potential threat from Iran, could be turned into a launchpad for offensive missiles is targeted at Russia.
The Pentagon readout said they had discussed Syria and efforts to avoid US and Russia forces clashing there, as well” as the country of US-Russia military relations and the current international security situation in Europe “.
Antonov argued that if the US and Russia, who account for more than 90% of the world's nuclear warheads, allow arms control pacts to collapse, it would create the risk of global nuclear proliferation. The diplomat said there is likely to be a revolt by states who do not possess nuclear weapons at next year's conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT ), which came into force in 1970.
Under the NPT , non-nuclear weapons states pledged not to acquire them, if the five official weapons states at the time( the US, Russia, UK, France and China) took significant steps to disarm.
” I don't want to participate in this conference because it will be a disaster ,” he said.
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