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© RIA Novosti. Igor Zarembo

Russia threatens to pull out of START

by at 23/11/2011 17:43

 

President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened to pull out of the Strategic Nuclear Arms Treaty (START) in the face of American recriminations over Russia’s conventional arms presence in Europe.

 

American president Barack Obama had to show his political mettle to get START through Congress and if Russia casts it aside it would be a stern slap in the face. Medvedev’s statement came on the back of a Tuesday announcement from the US State Department, where spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the US will stop observing the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) with respect to Russia.

 

Washington says that Moscow stopped observing the pact on conventional forces four years ago and that this merits an American response, hence her announcement Tuesday. Medvedev’s retaliation Wednesday could take things up a gear.

 

The spat highlights another kink in the road to the re-set that Russia-US relations have travelled since presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barak Obama came to power, after tense relations between their predecessors Vladimir Putin and George Bush.

 

Nuclear overtones

 

A US missile defense shield in Europe has proved a sticking point in the re-set, with Washington refusing to provide written guarantees that defenses built with Iran in mind would not be used against Russia and the latest CFE development bears uncomfortable overtones of the nuclear spat. Medvedev’s threat to jettison START moves the conversation up another gear.

 

“Given the inextricable link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons it could be that our country leaves the START treaty,” Medvedev said Wednesday.

 

‘One-sided’

 

But the US says they have done what they can, “We have tried repeatedly to bring Russia back to the table,” Nuland told reporters. “After four years of non-Russian implementation, and after repeated efforts… We think that it’s important to take some countermeasures vis-à-vis Russia… Because hitherto, there had been… A nonreciprocal situation where we were giving data, giving data, giving data and being open, and Russia was not reciprocating,” a transcript of the briefing on the US State Department’s official website said. 

She said that the CFE treaty would go ahead in respect to the other 28 countries in the treaty, who implement it fully.

 

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