Implementing the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act Preview
The Russian Foreign Ministry is committed to a more modern legal framework for cooperation with the United States
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview that “in the near future, new contacts will take place with the American side, during which it will be precisely about creating a more modern legal framework for cooperation” in the field of weapons of mass destruction.
In May 2013, the Nunn-Lugar program expires – an agreement that was concluded between Russia and the United States in 1991. The Joint Threat Reduction Program envisaged the destruction of nuclear, chemical and other types of weapons of mass destruction on the territory of Russia and the CIS countries at the expense of the United States. The program was extended twice, in 1999 and 2006. This year, the Russian authorities decided not to renew the program in Russia.
“I don’t want to call this a new agreement. This is a transformation of the existing base, – explains Ryabkov. – Maybe an agreement, maybe – some political commitments or a protocol to an already existing agreement. This is all to be clarified in the process of dialogue. We have some ideas, but we would not like to release to the public the content of these ideas until we have discussed them with our American partners. “.
According to Ryabkov, Rose Gottemoeller is arriving in Moscow in mid-February. US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. She will be presented with the ideas of the Russian side in the field of control over weapons of mass destruction.
Ryabkov is expecting other guests from the United States to visit, including with new proposals from Washington to “reset” Russian-American relations.
“We are, of course, interested in the work proceeding according to a constructive agenda. It all depends on the Americans. The sooner they articulate their preferences and priorities, whether in the form of a presidential message or otherwise, the better for the cause. We are ready, on our part, to take constructive steps “, – says the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia.
“We are not satisfied with the state of bilateral relations. There is no reason to hide it, “Ryabkov emphasizes once again..
New agreement needs symmetry and transparency
Pavel Zolotarev, Deputy Director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, believes that the new agreement requires, first of all, “transparency of some of the issues related to nuclear weapons and their storage”.
At a press conference on February 6, he explained that there was clearly “a certain asymmetry” in the old agreement: “The American side should provide for such an agreement so that Russian specialists could come to the United States and get acquainted with their work. Russia should be symmetrically informed on all issues “.
Nevertheless, Zolotarev points out that the final decisions on Russian-American issues will not be taken immediately: “Obama’s meeting with Putin was postponed in the spring. The point is that presidents simply have nothing to put on the table. All this means a lot of work between Russia and America in the coming months “.
“The problem is that we do not have a solid economic foundation for cooperation with the United States, as, for example, the United States has with China,” explains Zolotarev. “The only thing we have is nuclear weapons. And the more we reduce it, the more we reduce this common foundation of ours “.
Russia and the United States have different visions of mechanisms
Anton Khlopkov, director of the Center for Energy and Security, believes that Russia has no intention of ending cooperation with the United States in the field of weapons of mass destruction: “Russia wants to change the format”.
“Of course, the existing agreement is asymmetrical. Its legal basis was laid in the 90s, – Khlopkov reminds. – We had a completely different economic situation. Since then, many problems have been resolved. We need to thank our American colleagues for their help and find a new format for cooperation. “.
Khlopkov believes that the agreement has fulfilled all its tasks: “I do not see the drama described by the Western media in connection with the impossibility of prolonging the agreement.”.
“Russian and American interests largely coincide, but we have different visions of the mechanisms and tools that can be used,” Khlopkov notes..
The director of the Center for Energy and Security is confident that the former place of the Nunn-Lugar “framework” agreement will soon be replaced by a new agreement on cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy, which, according to Khlopkov, will soon receive a new impetus for development..