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CCADD MEETING 11 DECEMBER 2002-12-11
Dr Sergei Federyakov of the Russian Embassy in London spoke on "A Russian Perspective on Arms Control". This was thought to be the first time a Russian speaker had addressed a CCADD meeting.
Dr Federyakov began by saying that he was speaking on a personal basis. He spoke at greatest length on nuclear arms control. The US and Russia had concluded a new agreement on the reduction of their strategic potential under which each would go down to 1700 - 2200 warheads. Compared with START 2, the latest agreement was very short; only a few pages long. The agreement lacked any verification provisions. Dr Federyakov thought that, while such provisions might not be needed in the present climate, lack of transparency could lead to lack of trust, so that the omission was regrettable. A further deficiency was that the agreement did not prescribe the elimination of the reduced weapons – the US wanted to separate and store an unknown number of the reduced warheads and delivery vehicles, which meant that it would be possible to re-assemble them in times of tension. Destruction would be preferable. The number of warheads to be retained was also unnecessarily large.
The unwillingness of the US to ratify, and India, Pakistan and Israel to sign and ratify the CTBT (already ratified by Britain, Russia and France), meant that the Treaty could not enter into force for the foreseeable future. This could lead to a resumption of testing. It had also not been possible to make a start on the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). China was insisting on linking this to negotiations on the non-weaponisation of space. Russia thought it might be possible to make progress in the CD on the basis of a mandate for negotiations on an FMCT coupled with an exploratory mandate on non-weaponisation of space.
The other three main Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) remained outside the Russia/US process, and as the limits on Russian and US warheads decreased, the case for bringing in the others strengthened. The Russians favoured beginning consultations among the P5 on this. They had even suggested some figures – 4000 warheads as a total for the P5, of which 3000 should be the ceiling for the US and Russia together, and 1000 for the others.
The US/Russia discussions had produced useful understanding on non-targeting, but perhaps further progress could be made, e.g. on agreement by each country not to deploy nuclear weapons outside its own territory. Finally on nuclear weapons, we needed to ask ourselves what deterrence meant in today’s world.
On chemical weapons, there was of course the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Organisation had been set up in The Hague, and there were plans for disposing of existing weapons. Russia’s problem was that for financial reasons, she was unable to proceed with the elimination of her stocks within the prescribed time-table. She was appealing for help from donors, but so far had received only 5% of what she needed. Since she could not meet the target date, she was asking for re-scheduling – she would like to be given until 2012. She had already begun to build the relevant facilities with the assistance of some foreign countries, including the UK. Dr Federyakov noted that there were terrorists who would like to get hold of some of Russia’s WMD stocks – Chechen terrorists had already been conducting reconnaissance.
As regards biological weapons, the problem was that the BW Convention lacked a verification mechanism. Ten years of negotiations had brought close agreement on a Protocol on Verification, but after the last presidential elections, the Americans had decided that it was not in their interest to proceed. Without such a protocol, the Convention would not work, as it should, but it would make no sense to conclude a protocol without the US. The process had at least been kept alive, and it had been agreed to hold further expert-level discussions every year until 2006. The parties would discuss how to strengthen national legislation, and how to react to suspicious outbreaks of disease and other issues. But this did not address the main problem - verification.
On missile proliferation, there had been some positive developments. In November, the MTCR partners had decided to proceed with the Code of Conduct. However, there were problems – countries of concern might be drawn into the regime, and on the other hand, the rules were tough, and there might not be sufficient incentive for countries with significant ballistic capabilities to join. Russia had proposed a global system of control over missile technology, including advance notification of launches and an international monitoring centre. Discussions continued.
Finally, Dr Federyakov touched on anti-personnel landmines. The Ottawa process was gaining momentum, and Russia was part of it. But she could not yet accede to the Treaty because it would be costly to destroy her existing landmines, and also she had long borders to protect. Alternatives such as easily detectable landmines would also be costly.
Questions ranged widely. Asked about ballistic missile defence, Dr Federyakov said that Russia still believed the US abrogation of the ABM Treaty had been wrong. The result was that START 2 was invalid, and thus there were today no sublimits for warheads, on heavy bombers, submarines or land-based missiles. BMD would not protect the US from terrorist attack. Theoretically, a way forward might be to create a broader and non-discriminatory system of protection, but would countries be ready to pay? On the broader issue of deterrence, he accepted that it might work against rogue states or states known to be harbouring terrorists, but it could not work against terrorists who were ready to die for their cause. As to whether the major organisational chances in the Russian strategic nuclear forces (leaving them with a Commander rather than a Commander-in-Chief) meant that they no longer had the same priority, Dr Federyakov said he could only speculate – but it was certainly their case that the major current military issues which Russia faced, on her southern flank, were nothing to do with nuclear deterrence. Asked whether the Russians really had any way of knowing the truth about American holdings of nuclear weapons, in particular those in the UK, he said that START 1 remained in force, and a great deal of information was exchanged under that Treaty – but it did not cover American weapons in the UK. As regards the Russian view of the obligation of the Nuclear Weapon States under Article VI of the NPT to work towards elimination of nuclear weapons, Dr Federyakov said Russia took the same view as the other nuclear weapon states – it would be a long process. He could not realistically envisage its completion in his lifetime, although there could be further reductions.
On conventional weapons, Dr Federyakov was asked about control of the trade in small
arms, which were killing vast numbers of people. At the UN last year, Russia and China had raised the main objections against the attempts being made to agree a convention on this subject. What was the reason? Dr Federyakov said he was not an expert on this subject, but a distinction needed to be made between legitimate and illegitimate trade. Russia had her own system of control of small arms exports, and if all countries followed the practice of marking the small arms they exported, that would help. (It was pointed out that some governments when ordering specified that the arms should be unmarked.) On arms exports more generally, Dr Federyakov said that Russia had satisfactory control mechanisms in place, and held discussions with other exporting countries.
One questioner said that Dr Federyakov’s remarks indicated that there had been a disappointing lack of progress on arms control over the last 20 years. Should there be a complete change of focus, perhaps towards removing incentives for war? Dr Federyakov said that he agreed in a way, but in his view, arms control regimes played an essential part in international relations.