The U.S. State Department’s top arms control official has said the Obama administration will not give Russia any legally binding guarantees that U.S. missile defenses in Europe will not impact Russia’s strategic deterrent, Foreign Policy magazine reported.
“We will never do a legally binding agreement because I can’t do one. I can’t get anything ratified. Even if I wanted to I’m not sure I would… ’Legally binding’ doesn’t mean what it did before,” Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher said during a meeting of the Defense Writers Group on Thursday.
“What they (Russia) are looking for really is a sense that future administrations are going to live by [Obama's commitments]. And you can’t really do that,” she said.
Tauscher said that almost every issue regarding European security was “settled” and that the United States will conclude a missile defense agreement for cooperation with Russia later this year.
“The only thing that’s new where you can bring the Russians in is missile defense,” Tauscher said. “This is the place where we can begin to put aside the Cold War and ‘mutually assured destruction’ and move toward ‘mutually assured stability.’”
In a televised statement in November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia would deploy missiles and may opt out of the New START nuclear reductions agreement if Russia, the United States and NATO failed to find a way to work together on European missile defenses.
Russia is worried the U.S.-led anti-missile shield in Europe may target its nuclear forces.
Tauscher dismissed the threats as “part of the Russian campaign season” and said there would be more headway after presidential elections in Russia this March.
“We want to get back to the table with the Russians both on strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed. That means everything,” she said. “We need the elections [to] pass so that both sides can get back to the table.”