Press Roundtable at InterfaxStephen G. Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control
October 6, 2004
RADEMAKER: Good morning, my name is Stephen Rademaker. Iím the Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control. I am in Moscow today for regular consultations with my counterparts about arms control matters. I spent most of the day yesterday meeting with my Russian counterparts at the foreign ministry Anatoliy Antonov and members of his team at the foreign ministry. I also met with General Buzhinskiy at the Ministry of Defense and this morning I met with first deputy chairman Kvitsinskiy of the State Duma, of the International Relations Committee of the State Duma.
The principal focus of my meetings was arms control matters. We reviewed the status of implementation of the Moscow Treaty as well as the START treaty. We talked about the chemical weapons convention and the biological weapons convention, the upcoming review conference for the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. We reviewed the status of deliberations at the UN conference on disarmament in Geneva. Ambassador Antonov is the former Russian ambassador to the conference on disarmament so he takes a very strong interest in the issues that are before that conference. In that connection I reviewed with Ambassador Antonov the new U.S. proposal that was laid out on July 29 in Geneva regarding the proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. As well as another initiative we announced on July 29, a proposed prohibition on the sale or export of persistent landmines.
In addition we discussed the status of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and in particular the issues that need to be addressed before the Adapted Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty can be ratified and enter in force. The principal problem in that area is the need for Russia to implement the so-called Istanbul commitments with respect to Russian forces in Georgia and Moldova. And a final matter we discussed is U.S. Missile Defense programs, which is an issue of considerable interest to my Russian counterparts. So in general terms, those are the issues which we discussed and I would be happy to respond to any questions you might have about those issues or about our discussions.
QUESTION: (Unidentified journalist) First, considering that START II is not yet ratified by both sides, how are the sides first of all exchanging information on the issues that are touched upon in this treaty and did the United States side give information to the Russian side about the new sea-based ballistic missile that is going to be tested by the Russian side?
RADEMAKER: Although the START II Treaty was never ratified in clean form by the Russian side, the START I Treaty is still on (??). The START II Treaty has been overtaken by the Moscow Treaty, which I believe in Russia is referred to as the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Potentials. This treaty entered into force over a year ago and it provides for deeper reductions than were anticipated in the START II treaty. The Moscow Treaty does not contain its own verification provisions but rather relies on the verification mechanism that currently exists under the START I treaty. We consider those verification provisions adequate to provide us the assurance we need of Russian compliance with the Moscow Treaty.
I believe the last part of your question referred to the Bulava missile. We did not have an in depth discussion during my meetings yesterday. But there has been considerable exchange of information between the two sides in the context of the START verification regime and there will be a meeting later this month in Geneva of the JCIC, which is the joint verification commission established under the START treaty. We expect that at that meeting there will be further discussion of this missile and the ways in which it will be dealt with under the START and Moscow treaties.
QUESTION: Ria Novostiy Ė Could you give us a rundown on the discussion regarding the CFE. We have been getting the feeling that at this point the treaty is pretty much dead because of the geographic and political changes that took place and the reality seems to be that we now need a completely different and new agreement.
RADEMAKER: I would disagree with that characterization. The reality is that the Adapted CFE Treaty was negotiated in order to address the many changes that have occurred in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Including in particular the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the enlargement of NATO to include some countries that previously belonged to the Warsaw Pact. The Adapted CFE Treaty was signed in 1999 in Istanbul. Five years have now gone by and the treaty has still not entered into force. This does not mean that there is no conventional arms control in Europe, but it does mean that we must continue to live under the previous CFE treaty that was negotiated during the Cold War. We welcome the fact that the State Duma in June of this year adopted legislation authorizing ratification by Russia of the adapted treaty.
But I explained in my meetings that the United States and our NATO allies are still not in a position to ratify the adapted treaty. The obstacle to ratification by the United States and our NATO allies is the failure by Russia for the past five years to implement the Istanbul commitments, which were agreed to by Russia simultaneously with signature of the adapted treaty in 1999. The (thrust?) of the Istanbul commitments is an undertaking by Russia to withdraw its forces from Moldova and to negotiate with the government of Georgia an arrangement that provides for duration of the continued Russian troop presence in Georgia.
Five years have gone by since the Istanbul commitments were entered yet neither of these things have happened. This is a source of considerable frustration for us. We would like to ratify the Adapted CFE Treaty and bring it into force, but there is no prospect of this happening without Russian compliance with the Istanbul commitments. So the thrust of my discussions yesterday on this point was to once again press the Russian side to move forward with implementation of the Istanbul commitments.
The United States wants to do everything it can to facilitate compliance with the Istanbul commitments. Through the OSCE Voluntary Fund we are providing financial assistance to the withdrawal of Russian ammunition from Moldova and we have offered to be helpful in Georgia as well. I have traveled once to Georgia and twice to Moldova in this position to see what I could do to contribute to resolution of these problems. I must say itís inexplicable to me why we donít see more progress. We often hear from the Russian side how much concern there is over the fact that the Baltic States are now in NATO and yet are not part of the CFE Treaty regime. Russian officials tell us they are very concerned that NATO could station large amounts of treaty-limited equipment in the Baltic States without any regulation of such deployments under the CFE Treaty.
The Baltic States cannot as a technical matter accede to the CFE Treaty Ė they cannot join the treaty. They could, however, join the Adapted Treaty once it enters into force, and in fact, all three of the Baltic States have said they would like to join the Adapted Treaty. But, in order for that to happen, the Adapted Treaty must be ratified and enter into force. So it would appear that the Russian government is concerned about the gray zone that exists in the Baltic States, but not so concerned as to be prepared to resolve the Istanbul commitment issue and Georgia and Moldova.
Q Ė Interfax Ė To what extent is the United States ready to fulfill the obligations under the Moscow Treaty and what can you say about the somewhat changing position of the United States on destroying nuclear materials as opposed to storing them?
RADEMAKER: The Moscow Treaty obligates both the United States and Russia to reduce the level of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to the level of 1,700 to 2,200 by the year 2012. This is approximately a two-thirds reduction from the level under (?) START treaty. The United States has until 2012 to complete these reductions. But we are not waiting until 2012 to complete this work. We are moving very quickly to implement the bulk of the reductions. We are deactivating all of our Peacekeeper missiles and have already deactivated three Trident nuclear submarines.
We have kept the Russian side informed of the status our reductions and I believe they are satisfied that we are proceeding in good faith. With regard to the other question you raised about the disposition of the warheads themselves, you probably know that the treaty itself makes no provision regarding the disposition of the warheads. The treaty applies to the deployment of the warheads on delivery systems. The Moscow Treaty is not alone in making no provision regarding dismantlement of warheads that are removed from active service. There has never been an arms control agreement between the United States and either the Soviet Union or Russia that provided for the dismantlement of warheads. Neither SALT I, SALT II, START I, START II--none of these treaties made any provision regarding what would become of warheads that were removed from active service.
I have to tell you candidly, it has come as a surprise to me that this has become a subject of controversy with regard to the Moscow Treaty, because I am not aware that any of the four treaties that I just mentioned, SALT I, SALT II, START I, START II were ever criticized on the grounds that they failed to require dismantlement of warheads. There are very good reasons that none of these treaties has ever provided for dismantlement of warheads. The main reason being that the problem of verifying dismantlement would be extremely difficult for both sides.
QUESTION: Moscow Komsomolets Ė Iíd like to ask you about the sanctions that have been placed against the Russian enterprises, companies, institutes earlier. Could you update us on the status of those sanctions which have been removed from the sanctions list, which remain on the sanctions list? And the second question, why is the U.S. critical of Russian support for the Iranian nuclear program while it is supporting its own allyís nuclear program in Pakistan?
RADEMAKER: First allow me to ask a clarification. When you talk about sanctions, are you talking about sanctions on Russian entities imposed pursuant to the Iran Non-Proliferation Act, or other non-proliferation laws, or are you speaking about something else?
QUESTION: - The first one, non-proliferation.
RADEMAKER: I cannot give you an update on the status of sanctions on individual entities today. I simply donít have the details of that before me. But, I can tell you that these sanctions are required by United States law for reasons that were considered very important to the United States Congress when it enacted the legislation requiring these sanctions. The United States has grave concerns about Iranís nuclear program as well as its other programs in areas of mass destruction and long-range weapons.
The United States has believed for a long time that Russian entities, Russian firms, were involved in providing some assistance to the Iranian missile program. For many years there has been a dialogue between the United States and the Russian government about this issue. The basic Russian position in that dialogue has been that these transfers were not taking place, or if they were taking place, were taking place without the knowledge or consent of the Russian government and that the Russian government was doing everything in its power to stop them.
The legislation that weíre referring to, the Iran Non-Proliferation Act, essentially takes the Russian government at its word. It does not punish the Russian government for these transfers, rather it punishes the entities who we believe are involved in making such transfers. And, if sanctions continue to be imposed, itís because we become aware of information indicating that transfers are continuing to take place. We believe these transfers are contrary to the interests of Russia as well as the interests of the United States. The Russian government agrees in principal, but we continue to urge the Russian government to do more. And Iím sorry, what was your question about the Iranian nuclear program?
QUESTION: Why are you preventing the development of the Iranian nuclear program while Pakistan, an ally of the United States, does have nuclear weapons already.
RADEMAKER: Perhaps you didnít notice when we severely punished Pakistan for proceeding with its nuclear weapons program. Pakistan was an ally of the United States until about 1990 when we terminated all assistance to Pakistan because we became convinced that Pakistan was pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. We also imposed very severe sanctions on India in 1998 after India tested nuclear weapons, and we sought to punish Pakistan as well in 1998 when it responded with its own nuclear test. What we discovered was that we were almost alone in punishing India and Pakistan for their nuclear weapons programs. And so, over time, we have felt compelled to retreat.
In the case of Iran we have a country that has not yet tested nuclear weapons, but it has clearly embarked on a nuclear weapons development program. And we are seeking to work together with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other concerned countries to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. And I would suggest that it is at least as much in Russiaís interests as Americaís interests to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
One of the reasons we are so concerned about the Iranian nuclear program is that Iran is a government with a long track record of supporting international terrorism. Iran supports terrorist movements in a variety of countries in the Middle East. Our deepest fear is that one of these terrorist groups could one day obtain a nuclear weapon. The experience of the United States on 9/11 and the experience of Russia recently at Beslan persuades us that if these types of groups had a nuclear weapon, they would almost certainly use it against us, and of course the consequences of that sort of terrorism would make 9/11 and Beslan look like minor incidents by comparison.
President Bush has said that the policy of the United States is that we will not stand idly by while these dangers gather, and we hope that Russia will not stand idly by either.
QUESTION: As the moderator here I would like to ask the final question. Yesterday ex-President of Iran said that Iran has missile delivery systems that could strike at a distance of about 2000 kilometers, which would be far enough to strike southern Europe. Is NATO and the United States undertaking any specific measures of security in order to respond to this threat. The second question is what is the United States intending to do with its nuclear weapons in Europe, and against whom are these missiles, these weapons aimed at?
RADEMAKER: First with regard to the Iranian missile program, absolutely we are taking measures to protect ourselves. One measure we are taking is the deployment of missile defenses. We expect in the very near future, in the next few weeks, to be able to announce that our first missile defense interceptors are operational. These interceptors are deployed in Alaska, but we intend to expand the program and we are working with our NATO allies on steps that NATO can take to defend NATO forces and NATO populations against the threat posed by the Iranian program. We have also had bilateral discussions with several of our NATO allies about the possibility of deploying missile defense interceptors in Europe. The purpose of these interceptors would be to provide enhanced protection against the missile threat from Iran.
Another set of measure we are taking is steps designed to stem the flow of equipment and technology that is useful to the Iranian missile program. One aspect of that policy is the application of sanctions under the Iran Non-Proliferation Act to entities that transfer such technology to Iran. And of course, we have never believed that it is Iranís intention to deploy conventional warheads on these long-range missiles. These missiles would only be of value to Iran if they were able to deliver weapons of mass destruction. This is why we are so concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. It is obvious to us that Iranís intention is to deploy nuclear weapons on these missiles. Fortunately for us the United States is more 2,000 kilometers from Iran, but obviously Iran intends to deploy longer range missiles over time.
There has been an enormous reduction in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe since the end of the Cold War. In 1991 President Bush announced what has become known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, which provides for the drastic reduction of so-called tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and on ships off shore. As part of this initiative he promised that not only would we withdraw these weapons from Europe, but that we would dismantle the warheads.
We withdrew all of the warheads years ago and completed dismantlement of the warheads last year. At the same time President Yeltsin committed to similar reductions in Russian tactical nuclear weapons, but considerable concern exists that the Russian commitments have not been entirely fulfilled. I can assure you that when European audiences talk about the problem of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, their concern is directed toward the Russian tactical nuclear weapons and what countries they might be targeted on rather than the relatively small number of tactical nuclear weapons that remain in the NATO arsenal.
QUESTION: What about tactical bombs aboard airplanes, the air force in Europe, as opposed to tactical rockets based in Europe, two different things--air based or land based?
RADEMAKER: I was referring to all of them, there were dramatic reductions in the number of U.S. weapons in Europe.
Released on October 20, 2004