21:28 GMT +313 November 2018
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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks with Japanese сcounterpart Taro Kono and Japanese Defense Minister Itunori Onodara in the 2 + 2 format.

    Lavrov: Russia Ready to Renew Dialogue With US on INF, START, ABM Treaties

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    President Trump has threatened to scrap the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which has served to guarantee European security against the threat of nuclear annihilation, accusing Russia of violating the treaty's terms.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that Russia's proposals aimed at reducing risks of military incidents in the Euro-Atlantic region are still on the table, and that Moscow remains prepared to talk with the US about preserving the INF and New START Treaties, as well US missile defense.

    "We are interested in saving [the INF] and regret the US' announced intention to withdraw from the treaty," Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference after talks with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger in Moscow on Friday.

    "We have expressed our readiness to discuss the present situation, but as we understand it, the US decision is final. It will be announced officially soon, and a six-month countdown will begin, after which the decision to terminate the contract will become a reality," Lavrov lamented.

    Russia also remains ready to prolong the New START strategic arms reduction treaty after it expires in 2021. "But in order to realize this possibility, it's necessary to settle the existing problems related to the implementation of the agreement," Lavrov said.

    In any event, the foreign minister stressed that the situation of a lack of dialogue with the US on arms control using diplomatic channels which are currently "frozen" is simply "unacceptable." Established channels of dialogue "have not been used for quite a long period, which, of course, creates a situation which is unacceptable from the point of view of global security interests," Lavrov said. Moscow has consistently pushed for negotiations, both with the Obama administration, and "from the very first days" of President Trump's term, according to Lavrov.

    "We have regularly proposed unfreezing those channels of dialogue which are now frozen, and to begin a dialogue on all aspects of strategic stability, including the INF, START, and the ABM, or rather the non-treaty, which doesn't exist because Washington unilaterally withdrew from it, and the situation which is arising in connection with the creation of a global US missile defense system," Lavrov said. These systems naturally have a direct impact on strategic stability, according to the foreign minister.

    Russia Wants Talks on Militarization of Space

    Moscow is interested in the resumption of a variety of formats on dialogue with Washington on strategic stability after the US midterms, the Russian foreign minister said.

    In particular, Russia considers it vital to engage in a serious dialogue aimed at preventing the militarization of space, including the deployment of space-based weapons, with this issue said to be in danger of spinning out of control.

    "We are very concerned about the danger of the transformation of outer space into a sphere of armed confrontation. This subject has become more and more worrisome recently," the Russian foreign minister said.

    According to Lavrov, the subject "requires a professional, responsible discussion. Otherwise, the situation can get out of control and then, as some experts say, we can forget about stability and security."

    Background

    President Trump announced US plans to terminate the INF Treaty last month, accusing Moscow of violating its terms. The treaty, signed in 1987, required the Moscow and Washington to destroy their stocks of ground-based short and intermediate-range nuclear-capable missile systems in the 500-5,500 km range and restricted their development. Washington's European allies, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic have voiced concerns about Washington's intention to scrap the treaty. The UK, for its part, supported Trump's move, echoing US claims about Russian violations.

    The Trump administration officially established the Space Force as the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces in June after accusing Russia and China of militarizing space. Russian officials have voiced concerns over the US decision, citing the dangers of a space-based arms race. Russia and the United States are both parties to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which obliges parties not to station weapons of mass destruction in outer space and prohibits military maneuvers, military bases, and the testing of weapons of any kind on celestial bodies, including the Moon.

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