8 Aug 2022 20:13

Russia making sites subject to inspections under New START temporarily unavailable for such inspections - Foreign Ministry statement

MOSCOW. Aug 8 (Interfax) - Russia has notified the United States that it is temporarily exempting from inspection activities its facilities subject to such inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"On August 8, 2022, the Russian Federation officially informed the United States of America via diplomatic channels that our country is temporarily exempting from inspection activities its facilities subject to such inspection activities under the New START. This exemption also applies to facilities on which exhibitions may be conducted under the Treaty," the ministry said in a statement published on its official website.

"Such steps are envisioned by clause 5 of Section I of Part Five of the Protocol to New START," the ministry said.

"They may be taken in exceptional cases and for purposes not inconsistent with the Treaty. The Russian Federation has to resort to this measure now due to Washington's persistent intention to make sure as a fait accompli that the inspection activities are reset on terms that do not take into account the existing realities, provide the U.S. with unilateral advantages, and in fact deprive the Russian Federation of the right to conduct inspections in American territory," it said.

Russia's goal is "to rule out such an unacceptable situation and ensure the functioning of all mechanisms under New START in strict compliance with the principles of parity and equality of the parties, as was implied while it was being agreed upon and put into effect," the ministry said.

"These principles are not being observed now," the ministry said.

"In particular, the unilateral anti-Russian restrictive measures initiated by Washington have resulted in disrupting normal air travel, and the airspace of states that are allies or partners of the U.S. has been closed to Russian aircraft bringing Russian inspection teams to ports of entry in American territory. At the same time, there are no identical obstacles to American inspectors arriving in Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry has brought the matter up with relevant countries but has not received a reply," it said.

"Russian inspectors and crewmembers of Russian aircraft travelling to the U.S. are also experiencing problems due to the tightening of visa regulations by transit countries along their possible routes - again, as part of the unilateral anti-Russian restrictive measures incited by Washington," while U.S. inspectors and members of flight crews have no such problems, it said.

"All these and other issues known to the U.S., on which the parties are conducting exchanges via specially-designated channels, need to be resolved, without which resuming inspection activities under New START, on which the American side is insisting, would be premature," it said.

Russia expects "to continue close interaction with the American side," the ministry said. "We have spoken and are speaking in favor of considering the problem of resuming inspection activities envisioned by the Treaty from as realistic positions as possible," it said.

"This implies, above all, the consideration of the epidemiological situation related to Covid-19, which remains quite complicated. No clear trend toward a reduction of the scope of the coronavirus infection pandemic and a decline of relevant risks has been observed as yet. In particular, we see that the morbidity levels in the U.S. have been growing again, with over 120,000 new cases of Covid-19 and 300-400 related deaths recorded daily. Bearing this in mind, preserving the health and ensuring the safety of Russian inspectors and members of flight crews while conducting inspections in U.S. territory, as well as members of American inspection teams in the Russian Federation's territory, is a top priority for the Russian side," it said.

"In the current circumstances, the parties should abandon knowingly counterproductive attempts to artificially speed up the resumption of inspection activities under New START and focus their attention on thoroughly addressing all problems existing in this field, whose successful settlement would allow for resuming the full-format application of all verification mechanisms under the Treaty within the shortest possible timeframes," it said.

"The measures adopted by us are temporary," the ministry said.

"Russia is fully committed to abiding by all of the provisions of New START, which we see as a crucial tool for maintaining international security and stability. We highly value its unique role in ensuring the necessary transparency and predictability in relations between Russia and the U.S. in the critically important nuclear missile field," it said.

"After the problems regarding the resumption of inspection activities under the Treaty are resolved, we will immediately lift the exemptions from inspection activities that we have announced, and their full resumption will become possible. We are convinced that this would meet both Moscow's and Washington's interests. We stand ready to make our contribution to achieving this goal. We expect an analogous approach from the American side," it said.