GENEVA (Sputnik) – Unilateral actions by the United States and its allies in regard to missile defense systems are influencing strategic stability by undermining the outlook of reaching a world free of nuclear weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
“A whole range of factors today is influencing strategic parity. Among these factors are the unilateral actions by the United States and its allies in regard to missile defense systems that are already showing destructiveness on strategic stability, and in essence are undermining the outlook of moving toward a ‘zero nuclear’ [world], to the goal of which I understand that many of those present here in this hall share,” Lavrov said during his speech during a disarmament conference in Geneva.
Lavrov said that Washington is modernizing its nuclear potential and that several non-nuclear NATO members are participating in “nuclear missions” along with the United States, which is in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“US arms are being modernized and several European non-nuclear NATO members are actively participating in so-called joint nuclear missions. Such joint developments of skills using nuclear weapons with the participation of non-nuclear NATO countries affirmed by decisions during last year’s Alliance summit in Wales, are leading to a breach in two of the first fundamental NPT Articles,” Lavrov said.
Russia has repeatedly voiced concern over the deployment of US missile defense systems around the globe, saying they undermine the global and regional security environment.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Washington created threats for Russia by expanding its missile defense shield, placing its elements in Eastern Europe, close to the Russian border. However, NATO claims the system is primarily aimed to protect its allies, countering threats from North Korea and Iran.
The US-designed ballistic missile defense system was approved in 2010, during a NATO summit in Lisbon. A range of European countries, including Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey agreed to deploy elements of this system on their territories.
Moscow Committed to Nuclear Disarmament, Fully Observes New START Treaty
In its turn, Russia is committed to nuclear disarmament and its strict observance of the 2010 Russian-US strategic arms reduction treaty (new START) clearly shows it, Sergei Lavrov added.
“Moscow is committed to the nuclear disarmament goal… and the thorough implementation of the Russian-US strategic arms reduction treaty is a clear illustration to this,” the minister said.
“We are ready for most serious detailed conversation on nuclear disarmament,” he went on, adding that such discussions should be freed from any double standards. “Any further reduction of nuclear arsenals is possible only on the condition of equal and indivisible security for all states.”
In January, the head of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow could revise its commitment to the treaty in response to “unfriendly actions” by the United States.
Under the new START agreement, signed by Moscow and Washington in 2010, the countries must limit the number of deployed ballistic missiles and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700 and deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550.
The treaty obliges the two nations to meet the stipulated limits on strategic arms by February 5, 2018.