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Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on START and CFE, February 16, 2007

Transcript of Replies to Questions from Russian Media on Topical Foreign Policy Issues by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Abu Dhabi -Moscow, February 16, 2007

Question: Your comments please on the statement of Baluyevsky on intermediate and short-range missiles?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Yuri Baluyevsky said nothing of the kind that would not be known, because it is a fact that since when the USSR and the USA signed the Elimination of their Intermediate-range and Shorter-range Missiles Agreement it has been a bilateral agreement, a bilateral commitment, and both countries have been abiding by this treaty. But the situation has been evolving quite intensively in the sense that no other country has assumed such commitments and has no restrictions whatsoever in this connection. Ever more states are developing missiles of just this range. It is not the first time that we have drawn attention to this, but simply as to a fact. Of course, we have to take into account the developments in the strategic situation around our borders, and as we do so, determine what measures it is necessary to take to be able to maintain strategic stability in practice. I see no grounds for speculation here. We have heard the statement of the United States that they are concerned by these remarks of Baluyevsky. But we were also concerned when the Americans were unilaterally withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In this case, I repeat it, the question is not one of a decision already made definitively. We just state the real situation.

Question: Many journalists believe Russia holds a tougher position on short- and intermediate-range missiles because the West is not ratifying the adapted CFE Treaty. Is that so?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: These are different things. Because the regimes for limitations on short- and intermediate-range missiles are not determined by the CFE Treaty, which regulates conventional arms and conventional forces. Honestly, the distortions that have arisen in the CFE scope of operation are already falling beyond bounds from the vantage point of a reasonable balance of interests and capacities to ensure security.

With the disintegration of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and with the accession of most of its members to NATO, the entire CFE concept has simply become meaningless. An attempt to remove this meaninglessness was made by developing the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty to the new conditions, but, unfortunately, no one except Russia and Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus has ratified it. Under farfetched pretexts. Many analysts presume that the reason is not at all the limited number of Russian peacekeepers in Moldova and Georgia, particularly since their presence there has no relationship to the adapted CFE Treaty, but that our CFE partners have concluded that they do not need the adapted CFE Treaty. This is exactly the impression we have formed. If this is so then probably it's necessary to cease playing these games. Let each country independently decide on how it intends to use its own territory for placing its own armed forces and weapons…/p>

Question: Will Russia oppose sanctions against Iran at the next meeting of the UN Security Council?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: A report of the IAEA Director General on how the latest resolution on Iran is being implemented must be presented on February 21. So far it is being poorly implemented - everyone understands that. We are seeking through our extremely intensive contacts with Teheran to get our Iranian colleagues to respond l to the appeals of virtually the entire world community after all and take a pause in their uranium enrichment activities so as to allow us all to start necessary talks. So far these results have yielded no result, but some time is still there. But when the report is presented to us, of course, we are going to study it and will be ready to consider proposals submitted to the UN Security Council.

It is not about taking a stand on new sanctions. Sanctions are an instrument of last resort. Sanctions have already been imposed. We are convinced that it is necessary to look for ways to resume talks with Iran. If the next resolution helps this, we are ready to support it. If there is a more effective way to arrive at talks which would help solve this problem and not inflict any harm upon the nonproliferation regime, we will, of course, choose this more effective method.

Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.