Russia Seeks Nonstrategic Nuke Talks With U.S.

A senior Russian diplomat on Thursday said his country wants to join the United States in discussions on short-range atomic armaments, ITAR-Tass reported.

The United States keeps approximately 200 B-61 gravity bombs at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, according to specialists. Russia is estimated to wield roughly 2,000 nonstrategic nuclear arms that are in storage but available for use.

"I want to mention the circumstances. The circumstances are clear. They haven't changed since the beginning of 1990s. No changes have happened in this sphere (tactical nuclear weapons) towards the United States and its allies," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

Still, communications on the matter would move forward, Ryabkov said.

"Dismantling the infrastructure of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and deploying them in the U.S. is the condition for efficiency. These aspects should be discussed within the multilateral format in full compliance by Washington with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty," he stated.

The Obama administration has cited tactical nuclear arms as one area that could be covered in arms control talks following the 2011 entry into force of the U.S.-Russian New START treaty. That pact requires both nations by 2018 to cut their stocks of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 and fielded delivery systems to 700.

Ryabkov reaffirmed his government's demand for additional nations to join potential new negotiations on cutting nuclear-weapon quantities, ITAR-Tass reported separately.

“We proceed from the understanding that further steps in the field of nuclear arms reduction and limitation must be multilateral,” he said. “This will make it possible to take them in a way that will strengthen international stability, maintain peace and equal and indivisible security and also guarantee the verifiability and irreversibility of the measures being taken.”

“We are interested in advancing intensive international and multilateral dialogue on all tracks having a bearing on international security and strategic stability,” Ryabkov added.

"We rivet much attention to the missile defense problem. The dialogue on further disarmament is impossible (if this problem remains unsolved)," he said on Thursday in another ITAR-Tass report.

Meanwhile, Moscow is moving to bolster defenses at its Novaya Zemlya trial atomic detonation area in preparations similar those that once preceded Cold War-era nuclear tests, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported on Tuesday. Russia has observed a freeze on nuclear trial explosions since the early 1990s and ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 2000. However, subcritical atomic tests have continued at the Novaya Zemlya location.

Moscow operates a $63.6 million initiative aimed at ensuring the proper functioning of its nuclear arsenal. Subcritical trials absorb require 1.5-2 percent of the funding.

"In previous years, we laid the groundwork for developing and testing nuclear weapons, so currently there is no need to resume full-scale nuclear testing," rocketry specialist Gerbert Yefremov said.

November 8, 2012

A senior Russian diplomat on Thursday said his country wants to join the United States in discussions on short-range atomic armaments, ITAR-Tass reported.