The disarmament race

Senators consider the START-3 Treaty to be a milestone on the path toward a nuclear-free world

Tomorrow, the Federation Council will issue its decision on the START-3 treaty. Already today, however, members of the Senate are doubtful that it will be positive.

This announcement was made yesterday by the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Mikhail Margelov, at the end of an extended discussion between the relevant committees on the nuances of the treaty. Moreover, on January 26, the Upper House plans to adopt a statement in which it will present its position on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.

Two committees – the Foreign Affairs and the Defense and Security Committee – are drafting the document. As was reported by the head of the Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Ozerov, the senators’ statement will not be a copy of the State Duma declaration on the same issue.

“Neither is this a mirrored copy of the US Senate’s declaration,” Ozerov said, hinting at the senators’ meticulous work.“First and foremost, we want to express to the Federation Council those conditions under which it is possible to ratify the agreement.”

However, Russian parliamentarians are not the only ones who will have to draw their attention to the document. Ozerov specified that the Upper House will be asking President Dmitry Medvedev to forward the senatorial statement to the US.

“In our statement, we would like to express the points toward which US attention should be drawn,” he explained.

The senators did not comment on what specific information their draft statement contains, and resorted to only a couple of short responses. Ozerov, for example, said that he likes to have public discussions on what has already been written and not on what is yet to be drafted. But for protocol, he drew attention to the fact that the country’s strategic forces are in need of economic and political support, due to which the Upper House will call for their funding on a priority basis.

As for Mikhail Margelov, he approached the issue not from the economic but from the political side.

“The statement’s main idea consists of the fact that ratification of the START-3 treaty is not a period in the ‘reset’ of the Russian-American relations. In the discussion of ballistic missile defense, it is an ellipsis,” explained the senator. “Such enormous nuclear powers as Russia and the United States must be able to reach agreements. If we cannot agree, then the entire world will find itself on the verge of destruction.”

He also expressed hope that, in the ratification of the treaty, the US is seeking the same goal as Russia: its implementation.

Implementation of the START-3 Treaty by two major powers could serve as a stimulus for other countries. Senators hope that the document will prompt other members of the nuclear club to join the agreements on the limitation of nuclear strategic weapons.

“I think that, if not our children, then our grandchildren will live in a nuclear-free world,” Margelov boldly predicted. In his opinion, with the ratification of this document, the era of an arms race will become a thing of the past, and we will soon be able to talk about a “disarmament race.”

Of course, the parliamentarians are confident that the START-3 Treaty, signed by two presidents and bound by parliamentarians, must be closely observed. They do not intend to stand on the sidelines of this process. Margelov promised there will be tight control over the implementation of the treaty. Among others, monitoring will be done by the Federation Council-US Senate working group, a co-chairman of which is Mikhail Margelov.

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