The US-led bloc's practice of spreading atomic weapons around must end, Moscow insists
The deployment of US atomic weapons on the territory of non-nuclear NATO members goes against the nonproliferation treaty (NPT), increases the risk of conflict, and hinders disarmament efforts. This was the message the Russian delegation delivered to the UN conference on nuclear nonproliferation in New York, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday.
"NATO openly declared itself a nuclear alliance. There are US nuclear weapons on the territory of non-nuclear allied states in the bloc," said Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director for nonproliferation and arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In contravention of Articles I and II of the NPT, non-nuclear members of NATO are taking part in "practical testing" of the use of atomic weapons, Vishnevetsky added. Such actions "not only continue to be a significant factor negatively affecting international and European security, but also increase the risk of nuclear conflict and generally act as a brake on efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament."
Moscow's position is that "US nuclear weapons must be withdrawn to national territory, the infrastructure for their deployment in Europe must be eliminated, and NATO's 'joint nuclear missions' must be terminated," Vishnevetsky told the UN conference, according to a transcript posted by the Foreign Ministry.
The US Air Force currently has an estimated 150 nuclear bombs at NATO bases in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Russian delegate also touched on AUKUS, the September 2021 deal that envisioned the US and the UK providing atomic-powered submarines to Australia. This partnership "creates prerequisite for the start of a new arms race in the Asia-Pacific region," Vishnevetsky said.
The withdrawal of US atomic weapons from non-nuclear NATO states was one of the key planks of Russia's security proposal, presented to the US and NATO in December 2021. Neither Washington nor the military bloc addressed it in the responses they sent to Moscow in January.
At the very start of the conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of "reckless, dangerous nuclear saber-rattling" aimed at "those supporting Ukraine's self-defense." Russian diplomat Andrey Belousov responded that Moscow put its nuclear forces on alert to deter NATO aggression, and that the conflict in Ukraine does not rise to Russia's nuclear threshold.
Belousov has also addressed statements by US officials about new negotiations on strategic arms control with Moscow, saying that Russia has so far received only "declarative statements," but no "concrete proposals."