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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 60, September 2001

Documents & Sources

Interview with Russian President

'Russian President Vladimir Putin Interview to German ARD Television Company, September 19, 2001,' Russian Foreign Ministry transcript.

"Question: '... You said that after the terrorist acts in New York and Washington it is becoming obvious that the Americans' anti-missile umbrella planned for deployment is either unnecessary or it won't save from such attacks. And may I put the question entirely differently, notably that that's what is needed right now, once terrorists have now obtained a possibility to use such technologies and with the use of missiles?'

President Putin: 'Of course, no. For what was it that the terrorists used? Civilian aircraft. And a national missile defense system protects only against missiles and only against ballistic missiles. You understand the difference between a civilian aircraft and ballistic missiles? ... This, though, does not mean that we must not think of how to adapt the system of security in the world that has developed as of now to the possible dangers which may await us in some historical perspective. And we are ready for this dialogue.'

Question: 'Is it conceivable in the present situation, marked by a global crisis conditioned by the fight against terrorism, that you will say: "If you - Americans - slightly reduce the pace of realization of your plans to deploy an antimissile umbrella, we will show a still greater capacity, for example, in military terms, to render you more considerable support in the struggle against terrorism" or you cannot imagine this kind of haggle?'

President Putin: 'No, we do not want to and will not have any haggle here. To us the question of combining efforts in the struggle against terrorism is an independent topic of our cooperation. Of course, we are aware that if in this matter, in this field we reach mutual understanding, and on this ground, can effectively cooperate with each other, this will create a good climate for solving other problems too. But, I think, it would be wrong here to haggle with each other and to exploit the difficulties with which our partners are confronted to solve some other tasks. We've got no such aim and we will not be doing that.'

Question: 'If the Americans, despite your objections, unfold the anti-missile umbrella...what can Russia undertake in this case?'

President Putin: '... This is a decision which America can take independently. It has a right to do so, because in the [ABM] Treaty itself...there is an appropriate provision which envisages a procedure for dissolving this Treaty unilaterally. Either side which intends to take such a decision must notify the partners six months in advance. Therefore if our American partners take such a decision, half a year before withdrawal from the Treaty they must inform us, and we in this case will not stage any hysteria. But we do think that this would be an erroneous step. And here's why. Today's system of international security is largely based on the ABM Treaty of 1972. The START I Treaty is connected with it, and so is the START II Treaty, which we have ratified. Our US partners so far haven't, unfortunately. Associated with it is a whole series of other international legal obligations in this sphere, in the sphere of international security, approximately 30 treaties and agreements. This will be destroyed overnight. We are not proposing anything in return. We consider this is incorrect. We hold this to be a mistake. There will be no great harm to our own national interests from the Americans' withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, because Russia in the next 30 years will certainly be able to ensure its security. We know this, our US partners know this. The position of Russia protects rather not its own security, but the position of Russia proceeds from the need to take care of the international structure, of the international security architecture which has developed as of now.'

Question: '... You and Russia are criticised in the world for supplying, for example, nuclear technologies to such states as Iraq or North Korea, the so-called states of concern as they are now called by Americans, previously they called them rogue states. And such states of concern are getting Russian nuclear technologies and weapons. It means that the weapons are already there. Will you stop these supplies?'

President Putin: 'You know, there is a saying, it may not sound very nice, but I think it would be appropriate: we believe that meat and flies should be kept separate. Let us separate flies from meat. As for nuclear cooperation with Iran, we are talking about cooperation in the field of atomic energy, the building of atomic power plants and so on. Our American and some other Western partners are planning to do exactly the same in North Korea which is also called a rogue state. Why should everybody else be allowed to work there while Russia shouldn't be allowed to work with the same technologies with Iran? We see this as a political justification of unfair competition. That's one thing. Secondly, as regards cooperation in the military-technical field. Yes, we do sell weapons to other countries. You know in what place we are in terms of sales? I think we are in fourth or fifth place. We are well behind the United States, Great Britain and some other countries. We are in fourth place. The arms market is fairly limited. If our Western partners can offer to compensate us for the possible losses if we stopped our activities in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, we can think about it. But we must comply with our obligations under the treaties we have concluded. And the last thing. In this cooperation we never go beyond the framework of the international commitments we have assumed and we will never transfer any technologies connected with the spread of mass destruction weapons, including nuclear military technologies. Russia has signed a corresponding agreement on non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and it strictly abides by these accords.'"

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.