Several days ago, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Nuclear and Missile Defence Policy Robert Soofer said that Russia was initiating an arms race in the sphere of non-strategic weapons. Antonov believes that these accusations are aimed at lowering the barrier of using nuclear weapons by the United States.
“We would be ready to accept Mr Soofer to have a discussion in the Embassy or meet him at any other US platform comfortable for him. This would be a good demonstration of our responsible approach to maintaining the strategic stability and arms control", Antonov said.
He stressed that the deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads by the United States – not Russian moves – were destabilising the global system of nuclear deterrence. He cited the deployment of W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads to Trident II submarines as an example.
The ambassador said that the Pentagon should read the Russian document on nuclear deterrence published on 2 June.
"The document reaffirms the exclusively defensive nature of our nuclear policy as well as contains clear conditions for the possible shift to using nuclear weapons", Antonov said.
According to the ambassador, the constructive dialogue between Russia and the United States was launched in June-August with meetings between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Special Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea.
In May, the Washington Post newspaper reported that the Trump administration had discussed the possibility of conducting the country's first nuclear test in 28 years. The discussions were reportedly sparked by the administration's suspicions that Russia and China were conducting low-yield nuclear tests.
The allegations have not been substantiated by Washington, and have been refuted by both Moscow and Beijing.