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Кound table “What Should Be the Next Steps in the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Disarmament Process?” 05.03.2009

 On March 5, 2009 in the National Hotel in Moscow PIR Center together with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) held a roundtable on “What Should Be the Next Steps in the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Disarmament Process?” – a part of their project  “Ways of Nuclear Disarmament”.

The keynote speakers were:

  • James Goodby, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University;
  • Roland Timerbaev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Chairman of the PIR Center Executive Board;
  • Edward Ifft, Adjunct Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University;
  • Sergey Koshelev, Deputy Director, Department for International Security and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense of Russia, experts from scientific and nonproliferation community, embassies of foreign states and international organizations attended the roundtable and participated in the discussion.

The major and, perhaps, most debated points as of today are the numerous statements of the U.S. Prasident Barak Obama about the renewal the U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament dialogue and the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's statement of the readiness to begin the work on the disarmament issues. What kind of steps will Russia and the United States make addressing issues of disarmament? What are the main problem between two states on these issues? What is the future of the START I, which expires on December 5, 2009? These questions became the main points of the active discussion during the roundtable.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Roland Timerbaev pointed out during his speech: “Many disarmament plans, launch of such initiatives and debate on them at various intergovernmental and nongovernmental forums have generally positive impact, because they mark to the governments and general public the need to undertake measures leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. They also facilitate the mobilization of public and create favorable environment and stimuli for achieving provisional agreements on nuclear arms control and, hence, bring the humanity closer to the nuclear weapon free world.”

The discussion, however, was not exclusively devoted to the U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament dialogue. “It would make a difference if the nuclear weapons states, led by the United States and Russia, joined in removing nuclear weapons from their war plans and in taking prudent steps to reduce the numbers of deployed weapons to zero. And, very importantly, it would create a solid front against the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran, North Korea, and others that might seek to emulate those nations,” – said James Goodby.

The discussion of the START I future inspired the greatest debate. “Before discussing any serious agreements, we need to turn a page or to draw a line under the contradictions and disagreements which emerged in the last months of the Republic administration,” – said Sergey Koshelev.

All participants of the roundtable were sure that the talks on the START I would be difficult even under the new democratic administration. “The participation of Bob Einhorn and Rose Gottemoeller in the negations will complicate this process, because no other than Rose Gottemoeller knows the weaknesses of the Russian nuclear policy. … I am surprised by a current Russian position. I think that it is an infantile position, because now we have the right time to act in this issue,” – commented Major General (Ret.), Senior Research Associate of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Vladimir Dvorkin.

Edward Ifft described the START I problem as follows: “My personal recommendation would be to replace both START and SORT with a new treaty.  Whatever option is chosen, there are two main questions—what should be the level of strategic nuclear weapons systems and what verification regime is needed?"

Full text of the presentations will be published in one of the coming issues of the Security Index journal.

Detailed information about PIR Center's projects is available by phone: +7 (495) 987-19-15, by fax: +7 (495) 987-19-14

 

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