MOSCOW, Russia – Representatives of countries possessing nuclear weapons, or the “nuclear club” – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and China – met on Wednesday in Beijing. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stated that the level of potential for world conflict has reached a dangerous mark.
“The situation in the international security sphere has not stabilized and even continues to worsen. The level of potential conflict has reached a dangerous mark,” Ryabkov said.
According to him, Russia witnesses the decline of strategic stability in the world caused by attempts by several countries to “shake the architecture of regimes of non-proliferation and arms control”.
Moscow is also concerned that some countries will change their doctrines, lowering the threshold for use of nuclear weapons.
The Russian deputy minister said that the representatives of the five countries with nuclear weapons refused to coordinate a joint declaration during the meeting in Beijing.
“The fact that all these events occur in the context of an increase in the lack of mutual trust among the members of the ‘nuclear club’ is an unprecedented challenge, this time we even had to refuse to adopt the final declaration,” Ryabkov said.
“Therefore, the issue presented by Russia on the role and place of the ‘five states’ in the context of strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as in a broader perspective, becomes especially relevant,” he said.
Later, on the sidelines of the meeting, Sergei Ryabkov told reporters he would meet separately with US Under-Secretary for Arms Control and Security Affairs, Andrea Thompson, on Thursday.
On December 4, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the US would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on February 2 if Russia did not provide evidence that it is complying with the agreement.
The INF Treaty, signed by Washington and Moscow in 1987, has no expiration date and prohibits parties from having ballistic missiles or cruise missiles ranging between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
In recent times, Moscow and Washington have regularly accused themselves of violating the INF Treaty. Russia has repeatedly stated that it strictly complies with all the obligations of the terms of the agreement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that Russia has serious questions about the implementation of the Treaty by the Americans themselves. According to him, the US charges are unfounded, since the 9M729 missile was tested within the scope allowed by the agreement. Lavrov also believes that the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty will jeopardize the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.