Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s interview with the German ZDF TV Company regarding the modernisation of US nuclear weapons in Europe, Moscow, September 22, 2015
Question: What does the Russian government think about the scheduled modernisation of US nuclear weapons in Germany?
Maria Zakharova: Such plans on the part of the United States raise concern for us. As you may be aware, in the 1990s, Russia reduced its non-strategic nuclear weapons arsenal by 75 per cent, moved them into the category of non-deployed weapons, and warehoused them in central storage facilities within its national territory.
Meanwhile, Europe – not just Germany, but Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey as well – still have deployed US tactical nuclear weapons on their respective territories. The Americans are modernising their nuclear bombs, and European NATO members are modernising aircraft carriers for such weapons. This policy was confirmed at the NATO summits held in Chicago (2012) and Wales (2014).
We are likewise concerned by the so-called practice of "joint use of nuclear weapons" within NATO. Exercises involving the preparation and use of nuclear weapons by the armed forces of states that do not possess such weapons are a direct violation of NPT articles 1 and 2. This abnormal situation has been in place for more than 40 years now, but that does not make it any more acceptable.
In the interest of security and stability in Europe, we believe it is necessary to return non-strategic nuclear weapons to countries' respective national territories and to impose a ban on deploying them outside national territories, to eliminate the corresponding infrastructures outside national territories enabling rapid deployment of these weapons and to reject the holding of exercises involving the preparation and use of nuclear weapons of the armed forces of states that do not possess such weapons.
Question: Do you consider US nuclear weapons a threat to Russia?
Maria Zakharova: The presence of US NSNW (non-strategic nuclear weapons) in Europe is taken into account in our military planning. A comprehensive analysis of the situation reveals that building up NATO military capabilities and imparting to it global functions that are exercised in violation of international law, as well as advancing NATO military infrastructure to Russia’s borders, present a risk. We are concerned by the creation and the deployment of strategic missile defence systems which violate the balance of nuclear-missile forces and thus undermine global stability. We are also concerned by the implementation of the concept of a global strike and plans to put weapons in space, as well as the deployment of strategic nonnuclear precision weapon systems. All of that is outlined in the revised Russian military doctrine of December 2014
Question: Does Russia plan talks with the United States on reducing tactical nuclear weapons?
Maria Zakharova: Russia is open to discussing any issues related to strengthening international security, but we do not consider the NSNW a priority. We believe that when it comes to arms control, we should focus primarily on missile defence, the US reluctance to support the idea of giving up the deployment of weapons in outer space and the imbalance in conventional weapons, to name a few.
Compliance with the Russian-American START Treaty is a priority in the sphere of reducing and limiting nuclear arms.