On March 10, 2022, in the framework of the Valdai Club discussion dedicated to the 52nd anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), “The NPT in the XXI century: does the world expect a nuclear war?” Alexandra Zubenko, Assistant Director of the Program “Global and Regional Security: New ideas for Russia”, junior researcher of the Program “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation”, and Anastasia Kulikova, an intern of the Educational Program, had the opportunity to ask Igor Vishnevetsky, Deputy Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry:
Today, the possibility of a new arms race in the Asia-Pacific region is of great concern. So, back in 2017, after the Russian initiative to declare a moratorium on the placement of INF in Europe, it was believed that this gives the green light for the placement of INF in the Asia-Pacific region. The same concerns were expressed when Russia prepared draft treaties with the United States and NATO, in which it was proposed to discuss issues of arms control in Europe. We assess that this issue is also of concern to China, in the recent Russian-Chinese statement there was a clause on the prevention of a new arms race in China. How do you assess the prospects for a new arms race in the Asia-Pacific region?
As regards the INF Treaty, in the “Brothers Karamazov”, one of the characters said: “If there is no God, then everything is allowed.” So, when the INF treaty disappeared, everything became allowed. These dangerous weapons systems, which were previously banned, can now be developed, and deployed. And moreover, it is possible to place nuclear warheads on them. Everyone can imagine how scary it is. Because the approach time of ICBMs is about half an hour, the approach time of missiles in Europe is minutes. Therefore, the Russian initiative to introduce a moratorium is extremely important. As for the question that this could give impetus to the arms race in the Asia-Pacific region, we hope that this will not happen.
Could you please comment on the situation around the Chernobyl and Zaporizhia nuclear power plants?
The Ukrainian side stated that the alleged shelling of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and damage to facilities there from which energy is supplied to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. We refute such fakes all the time. The Ukrainian battalions, who were standing there a few kilometers away, blew up the power line of the power plant and, one might say, put the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is specifically at risk. To restore, it was necessary to start the diesel engines that are there, and the Ukrainian military forbade the arrival of a team of workers to restore those power lines that were undermined.
As for the NPP, a terrorist group penetrated that area and staged an obvious provocation there. The representative of the IAEA then made an official statement that everything was under control.