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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

U.S. says Moscow no longer 'forthcoming' on arms verification

A senior State Department official last week said Russia’s military action in Georgia has slowed efforts to reach a nuclear verification agreement with North Korea to eliminate its nuclear program.

Paula DeSutter
Paula DeSutter, assistance secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation, told reporters that her office had sought to cooperation with Russia on arms verification issues over the past several years.

DeSutter also said the Russians have halted compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and has “refused to accept any inspection.”

“We've hoped to work closely with them on … how to do verification and elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program,” she said on Sept. 3.

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“That, however, is a bit in abeyance, but it's not because the United States isn't interested. We'd very much like to work with them. We and the Russians have more experience in verification and elimination than any other countries in the world, and we hope that things can evolve in a positive way so that we can move forward on a post-START agreement that we can bring the Russians back into compliance with their obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and a number of other areas.”

Asked why the verification is held up, DeSutter said wryly: “you may have noticed some activities in Georgia.”

“They've not been providing data. That decision was made a little over a year ago, and then they ceased their compliance” around December, she said.

DeSutter also said Russia has “not been very forthcoming” in a number of arms verification areas.

Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, had a reputation for failing to comply with arms control agreements and was caught in numerous violations of strategic arms treaties.

Russia is expected to suffer negative economic consequences as a result of the military action, including capital flight and failing stock prices, U.S. officials predict.

The military conflict also could lead to blocking Russian membership in the World Trade Organization and could affect plans for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

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