Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was speaking after his deputy, Sergei Ryabkov accused Washington of “lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons” by staging a simulation of a missile strike on Russia. Mr Lavrov was no less forthright, telling today’s Conference on Disarmament, held in Geneva today: “Regretfully, dangerous negative tendencies are accumulating in this century as a result of resurgent aggressive foreign policy egocentrism of one state.
“Washington’s withdrawal in 2002 from a most important for strategic stability ABM Treaty came as a heavy blow to the whole structure in the sphere of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.”
In a likely reference to Mr Trump’s administration, Mr Lavrov added: “A bid to dominate everywhere and impose its rules on the global community to the detriment of the interests of other states and international law has been prevailing in the US policy over the recent time.
“All multilateral agreements and mechanisms preventing this domination are declared obsolete and inefficient.”
Mr Lavrov also referenced the US decision to drop atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki over a three-day period in August, 1945.
As a result, he pointed out, the US had become “the only state using these deadliest weapons and launching an arms race, whose consequences are still felt”.
Huge progress had been made in the second half the 20th century to prevent such weapons being used again – but Mr Lavrov claimed US foreign policy was making such an outcome increasingly likely.
Moscow was still waiting for a response from the US in relation to President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) without pre-conditions, Mr Lavrov explained.
He added: “It would be a wise step to extend the treaty as it would help prevent further degradation of the situation in the sphere of strategic stability, to avoid a complete collapse of the control and restrictive mechanisms in the nuclear missile sphere and to win time to discuss approaches to the methods of control of new weapons and military technologies.
“Bearing this in mind, the Russian president offered the United States to extend the New START without any preliminary conditions. We are waiting for an answer.”
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In the mean time, Russia was deeply concerned at the uncertainty surrounding the future of the agreement, Mr Lavrov said, pointing out he had also raised the issue at last year’s event.
New START was signed on April 8, 2010, coming into force on February 5 of the following year.
In accordance with the agreement, each signatory should, within seven years of it entering into law, have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and strategic bombers, and no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers.
The treaty will stay in force until next year, at which point it will expire, unless replaced before then by a fresh agreement.
It can be extended for a period of up to five years with the consent of both parties.
Moscow has described New START as the “gold standard” for nuclear disarmament.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Ryabkov said: “The United States continues a series of command-staff exercises and other drills involving the simulation of limited nuclear strikes, particularly – as it became known recently – on targets in Russia.
“We condemn such actions because they clearly show that Washington is determined to pursue the path of confrontation and keep lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
“The US is embarking on a highly dangerous game instead of focusing on efforts to strengthen the arms control system that would also cover nuclear weapons.”
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