Comments and statements by Foreign Ministry Spokesman

29 April 201716:33

Comment by the MFA of Russia on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments

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The U.S. formally advocates for unconditional implementation of the norms of international law, which also refers to abiding, to the fullest extent, by international agreements aimed at strengthening international security and maintaining global stability, key among which are arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament treaties and conventions.

While proclaiming this approach and setting its own criteria, "ideal" from Washington's point of view, in terms of implementation of a particular treaty, the U.S. aspires to a monopoly in assessing other nations' compliance with their treaty obligations. Moreover, Washington does so categorically, ignoring the established practice of resolving issues through designated multilateral mechanisms.

The annual report, released by the U.S. Department of State on April 25, 2017, is subject to the same deficiencies as all the previous ones. While making absolutely unsubstantiated accusations against specific countries, its authors have once again attempted to portray the U.S. as being all but the only state with an impeccable track record in terms of compliance with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments. Such unacceptable manner of presenting and compiling facts has already become a traditional U.S. way of validating its claims to the "exceptional right" to judge the "guilty" and demand punishment for them.

While sharing the commitment to full and unconditional compliance with its obligations under international treaties, the Russian Federation strongly opposes the methods and means used by Washington in order to supposedly "expose" those countries which, in its opinion, are treaty obligations violators.

For the past years, there has been a growing number of reasons suggesting that such U.S. line of conduct is not at all due to the fact that it is plainly unwilling to burden itself with a complicated and time-consuming expert dialogue; it could be something even more serious than that, such as Washington's fear of itself being exposed for making unsubstantiated accusations against other countries, as well as for its own violations of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments.

Russia's Foreign Ministry is once again compelled to draw attention to such unacceptable activities by the U.S. and to the irrefutable facts aimed at contributing to an unbiased assessment of U.S. and Russia's actual compliance with their treaty obligations under arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments.

 

1. Missile Defense

In 2001, the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and set a course for a unilateral build-up of its global missile defense system without any restriction. This wrecked one of the pillars of the global strategic stability system.

Since that time this reckless effort to develop the US missile defense system has had a most adverse impact on the system of international security, considerably aggravated relations not only in the Euro-Atlantic, but also in the Asia-Pacific Region, and has become one of the most serious obstacles to further stage-by-stage nuclear disarmament, creating dangerous grounds for the resumption of nuclear arms race.

We have repeatedly drawn the U.S. side's attention to this problem. However, it has expressed no willingness to collaborate or to heed Russia's concerns. The U.S. refused to discuss even the guarantees proposed by Washington that U.S. missile defense elements deployed in Europe were not against Russia.

Unknown remains the target of these exceedingly costly missile defense preparations that are absolutely disproportionate to any potential challenge. Also illustrative is the U.S. unwillingness to readjust its missile defense plans despite the successful implementation of the 2015 agreements on the Iranian nuclear program. Meanwhile all of us remember that this used to be a backbone and, in fact, the only argument whereby Washington, even all the way up to the presidential level, justified the deployment of its missile defense systems in Europe.

It should be understood that the missile defense weapons being deployed all over the world are part of a most dangerous global project aimed at ensuring an overwhelming overall U.S. superiority at the expense of security interests of other nations. The aggressive build-up of U.S. missile defense architecture as a whole considerably shifts the strategic balance of forces in the field of offensive weapons and creates fundamentally more serious risks of global instability.

The danger is that the missile defense umbrella may lead to the pernicious illusion of invulnerability and impunity, thus tempting the "hotheads" in Washington to take new and dangerous unilateral steps to address global and regional problems, bypassing the UN Security Council and against all common sense, just like on April 7 of the current year when the U.S. launched a missile attack against a sovereign state, Syria.

There is only one way to solve this problem: the United States, as it implements its missile defense plans, must follow – in fact, rather than in word – the generally accepted principle that it is inadmissible to strengthen one's own security at the expense of that of other states, a principle that Washington itself has repeatedly confirmed at relevant international venues.

 

2. U.S. obligations under the INF Treaty

Washington has been providing knowingly inaccurate information on its "compliance" with the obligations under the INF Treaty. For many years, the U.S. has been simply ignoring Russia's serious concerns, directly related to the U.S. compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that are as follows:

- The U.S. deployed a land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system at its military base in Romania and plan to place another one at a similar base in Poland. The system includes a vertical launching system, similar to the universal Mk-41 VLS, capable of launching Tomahawk medium-range missiles. This is undeniably a grave violation under the INF Treaty.

- For missile defense purposes, for over two decades, the U.S. has been continuing testing target missiles technologically similar to land-based medium and long-range ballistic missiles and improving, among other things, key elements of the missile systems prohibited by the INF Treaty.

- For many years, the U.S. has been building up production and use of unmanned aerial vehicles. These vehicles potentially fit for delivery of weapons of mass destruction clearly fall under the Treaty definition of land-based cruise missiles.

It should be noted that for fifteen years Russia has been pointing out the latter two violations to its U.S. counterparts with no constructive response.

As for our concerns over the deployment of U.S. land-based missile launchers, after we first voiced them in 2014 the U.S., instead of at least trying to resolve the issue, responded with a public campaign of absolutely unsubstantiated accusations that Russia violated the INF Treaty by allegedly producing and testing ground-based cruise missiles prohibited under the Treaty. However, the U.S. has never provided any argument to support its claims. The information submitted by the U.S. side that was supposed to identify the problem, was, in fact, nothing but odd bits and pieces of signals with no clarification of the unfounded concerns. It is highly concerning that representatives of certain U.S. government agencies use such "facts" as an excuse to unfold yet another campaign regarding the possibility of application of “retaliatory measures” against Russia.

 

3. U.S. obligations under the NPT

The U.S. claims to be “fulfilling” its obligations under the NPT; however, the troubling situation with Washington's non-compliance with key provisions of the Treaty has not changed so far. The U.S. keeps engaging non-nuclear-weapon European NATO countries in the so-called “nuclear sharing” missions. Nuclear sharing includes elements of nuclear planning and training focused on the practical use of nuclear weapons involving carrier aircraft, their crews, airfield infrastructure and ground support services in non-nuclear-weapon NATO countries. All of the above is in direct violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Moreover, recent years have seen a campaign for an unprecedentedly large‑scale modernization of all components of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including non-strategic nuclear weapons located on the territory of other countries. The U.S. is planning to deploy new nuclear gravity bombs in Europe with reduced capacity and increased precision. These characteristics significantly lower the nuclear threshold. Such nuclear weapons turn from a “political weapon” into a battlefield one. Simultaneously, the unjustified false statement about a “growing Russian nuclear threat” is being replicated. The provisions of our military doctrine concerning the use of nuclear weapons are deliberately being distorted. The Western public is persistently being persuaded that Russia is allegedly reconsidering its views on the place and role of nuclear weapons and is making it a higher priority. None of this is true.

There is only one solution to the problem of nuclear sharing: all non-strategic nuclear weapons should be returned to the United States with a ban on their storage outside the U.S. territory; any infrastructure that enables rapid deployment of these weapons should be eliminated, all exercises and training of the personnel of the armed forces of non-nuclear-weapon countries focused on the skills of use of nuclear weapons should be cancelled.

 

4. The U.S. avoids Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty ratification

We are gravely concerned over the unwillingness of the U.S. to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), as it has already been preventing this essential international treaty from coming into force for 20 years.

What is more, judging by available information, influential U.S. political groups are not hostile to the idea of resuming nuclear tests, which would directly contradict Washington's stated commitment to strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Taking into account that States which are not parties to the CTBT look to Washington when it comes to deciding whether to join the Treaty, Washington's stagnant outlook proves to be the main obstacle to making the CTBT an effective international legal instrument.

 

5. Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required For Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well as Protocols to this agreement (PMDA)

The U.S. statement, claiming that the Executive Order by the President of the Russian Federation to suspend the operation of the PMDA did not provide substantial grounds for such suspension under the international law, is incorrect.

It is clearly stated in the preamble to the Executive Order that the decision to suspend the operation of the PMDA was underpinned by a fundamental change of circumstances and the emergence of threats to strategic stability following unfriendly actions by the United States regarding the Russian Federation and the failure by the United States to implement its obligations to dispose of surplus weapon-grade plutonium in keeping with international treaties. The same reasons are set out in Article 1 of the Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 381‑FZ dated October 31, 2016, which enshrined the decision to suspend the operation of the PMDA.

Since the PMDA came into force in June 2011, the U.S. has undertaken certain actions that led to a fundamental change of circumstances that existed at the time of the conclusion of the Agreement.

In 2012, the United States adopted the so-called Magnitsky Act, which was the first of an unprecedented pressure by sanctions imposed on Russia under false pretexts.

Since 2014, following the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the U.S. side has taken a series of hostile steps aimed at directly undermining Russian economy and social stability, including the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which allows to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs. Sanctions have also been imposed on individual constituent entities of the Russian Federation, legal entities and individuals.

At the same time, there started a build-up of NATO's military infrastructure and U.S. troops near Russian borders, which has drastically changed the strategic balance in Europe and is fraught with an escalation of military confrontation and tension.

All of the above led Russia to decide to suspend the operation of the PMDA in full compliance with Article 62 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Additional reason to suspend the operation of the PMDA was the obvious failure by the U.S. to ensure implementation of its obligations regarding the disposition of surplus weapon-grade plutonium within the established timeframe and under the terms agreed with Russia. The statement that all U.S. activities were consistent with the obligations set forth in the PMDA is incorrect.

In early February 2016, the Obama administration officially informed the US Congress of its intention to change the method of disposition for 34 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium, the quantity covered by the PMDA. According to the new method, instead of using weapon-grade plutonium as reactor fuel (so-called MOX fuel), it was to be subjected to simplified immobilization whereby weapon-grade plutonium would be mixed with filling material and buried in salt shafts. The U.S. side announced that it planned to halt the construction of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in Savannah River (South Carolina) and put this unfinished facility out of operation within the next few years.

It should be noted that the U.S. offered the plutonium immobilization option when the PMDA was being drafted. As Russia has repeatedly pointed out, this approach does not guarantee irreversibility of the disposition.

Washington's actions were a violation of the Agreement as the U.S. administration took steps to change the method of plutonium disposition without securing Russia's consent, which runs contrary to the Agreement provisions. Furthermore, those actions took place after Russia made it absolutely clear that it would not give such consent.

Russia is willing to consider the resumption of the operation of the PMDA once the U.S. addresses the causes of the fundamental change of circumstances with regard to those that existed at the time of the conclusion of the Agreement, and if the U.S. follows the agreed method of disposition.

 

6. Issues with US compliance with the BWC

At the Eighth Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (RC BWC, Geneva, November 7‑25, 2016), the U.S. delegation blocked the work on compromise solutions at a decisive moment, sabotaging the adoption of the BWC program of work for the period of 2017‑2020.

That unseemly move was not entirely unexpected, as the United States has had considerable destructive experience in this area. Back in 2001, the U.S. derailed everything that was achieved in ten-year-long multilateral negotiations on the development of a verification protocol to the BWC.

All of this makes Russia, which fully complies with its BWC obligations, raise serious questions regarding the true military biological agenda of the United States, not the one fed to the public.

Amid the continuing weakening of the regime that bans biological weapons, we are becoming increasingly concerned by the remaining unanswered questions regarding U.S. compliance with BWC obligations.

We cannot help but worry about the systematic deployment of the U.S. military biological infrastructure along the Russian borders. We are especially concerned by the significant reinforcement of the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate in Georgia (at Alexeyevka). The Pentagon is implementing similar projects in other countries that border Russia.

There is no clarity on the issues of anthrax spores produced by microbiology facilities belonging to the U.S. military and sent through the mail. For example, in 2005‑2015, anthrax spores were mailed to 194 recipients in 10 countries from the Lothar Salomon Life Sciences Test Facility (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). Such actions cause grave concern given that in 2001, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (Fort Detrick, Maryland) had already been the source of infecting civilians with that disease.

In addition, in contravention of U.S. commitments and the relevant decisions taken with U.S. participation at the international level, Washington still retains an option of the "retaliatory use" of toxin weapons and other types of chemical weapons.

According to the Executive Order 11850 signed by U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1975, the U.S. military is authorized to use "non-lethal" toxin weapons and other such types of chemical weapons as a method of warfare. It is clear that it will be the U.S. military that will determine the degree of "non-lethality" in such cases.

All of the above taken together creates a very alarming picture of U.S. "compliance" with its obligations under the BTWC.

 

7. U.S. compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention

For many years, the U.S. Department of State in its reports has been trying to contest the completeness of declaration submitted by the Russian Federation under article III of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and thus to challenge the competence and well-deserved reputation of the OPCW as an effective and successful international disarmament and nonproliferation structure. Unlike Washington, the OPCW has no claims against Russia.

The United States should still have taken a more responsible approach to the use of chemical weapons by non-State actors in the Middle East. To this end, it is just necessary to act in compliance with its commitments under UN SC resolutions 2118, 2209 and 2235 and to share evidence with the Security Council of any crimes committed by ISIL and other terrorist groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan, which was received by the American troops in 2015‑2016 directly from the place where the extremists had used the toxic substances.

It would also be useful to learn the "conclusive" evidence of stockpiling chemical weapons at the Shayrat airbase in Syria that were allegedly used during airstrike on the town of Khan Shaykhun, and to understand why Washington acted in violation of international law in the context of the alleged chemical incident in the Syria’s Idlib province. Moreover, the Americans and their allies have blocked the OPCW Executive Council from adopting a Russian–Iranian proposal for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation at the site of chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun and inspection visit of the Shayrat airbase by the OPCW representatives.

During the occupation of the Iraqi territory by the coalition forces (2003‑2009), the U.S. Department of Defense, according to officially confirmed information, discovered, including bought from the local population, about 5,000 chemical munitions of different types produced during Saddam Hussein’s rule. Meanwhile, the United States failed to notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of its activities, as required by the CWC, and destroyed those weapons in Iraq without due verification and not ensuring the safety of people (there is evidence that the American military personal was affected) or protecting the environment by means of open‑pit burning.

In this regard, we are surprised by the negative reaction of the United States to the repeated Russian requests in compliance with article IX, paragraph 1 of the CWC to be allowed access to the relevant archives of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. We proceed from the assumption that our request will eventually be given positive consideration.

The United States made no reservations when becoming party to the CWC; however the Senate of the U.S. Congress made a number of controversial conditions in the ratification instruments that made it rather problematic for Washington to fulfill its obligations under the Convention.

Thus, the President and Administration of the United States are obliged to begin acting, if necessary, in violation of CWC requirements, specifically: to prohibit export of any chemical samples taken in the United States; to impose restrictions on OPCW inspections in the United States requested by another Member State and aimed at detecting activities prohibited under the Convention; to maintain in force the Executive Order No. 11850 of April 8, 1975, enabling in certain situations to use riot control agents as a method of warfare (is prohibited under Article I of the CWC).

The United States continues to retain its reservation to the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, which implies the possibility of responding by using lethal or incapacitating chemical weapons (which produces temporary disabling conditions), which is also prohibited under Article I of the CWC.

 

8. Compliance with the Vienna Document 2011

Unfortunately, when it comes to assessing compliance with the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (VD 2011), the United States regularly accuses Russia of “selective implementation” and “lack of transparency.”

The United States claims regarding VD 2011 are based on some U.S. concerns that allegedly have been raised since 2014 regarding “Russia’s implementation of VD11, including with respect to Ukraine”.

While groundlessly accusing Russia of “arming, training, and fighting alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine”, the U.S. and NATO member states have dealt a serious blow to the credibility of VD 2011 as a tool for impartial supervision of military activities of the OSCE participating states. In this regard, it is important to reiterate the obvious: the Russian Federation is not a party to Ukraine’s internal conflict.

As for the repeated accusations in the context of VD 2011 (as well as the CFE Treaty) of resisting “occupation” and “annexation” of Crimea and stationing of military forces there “without host nation consent”, it has to be said that Crimea joined Russia following a free expression of will by its multi-ethnic population. The current status of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as constituent entities of the Russian Federation is a done deal. It is not subject to review. Consequently, Russia is free to station any of its military forces and equipment within its own territory. Any attempts to inspect the Crimean territory within the framework of Ukraine territory inspections are provocative and vain. Russia is certainly ready to receive inspectors, observers and evaluation teams in Crimea upon the corresponding requests under the Vienna Document.

By the way, the very Kyiv has so far failed to comply with its obligations under the Vienna Document regarding the military activities of its troops in Donbass. However, the Report of the U.S. Department of State fails to mention this.

As for reproaches against Russia regarding the failure to provide information on military bases of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it should be noted that these sovereign states are not OSCE participating states, and thus they are not part of the zone of application for confidence- and security-building measures as defined in the Vienna Document 2011. The American experts who drafted this part of the Department of State report are certainly very well aware of this. And they certainly know that Russia does provide the mentioned information in accordance with the Global Exchange of Military Information, another OSCE document.

In 2016, just as in previous years, the Russian side on a voluntary basis gave sent the OSCE participating states, including the United States, notifications with detailed parameters of unscheduled inspections. Those notifications naturally covered only those forces that fall under the provisions of the Vienna Document. It is indicative that no “unusual” or “unscheduled” military activities, or exceedance of the thresholds for notifications of military activities have been registered during the inspections conducted by the OSCE participating states in compliance with the Vienna Document. Thus, the hints contained in the Report of the U.S. Department of State at the possibility of such exceedances of thresholds during map exercises are groundless.

We would like to say a few words about Russian major weapon and equipment systems mentioned in the U.S. report (naturally with a hint that we have "concealed" data). As Russia has repeatedly demonstrated to its partners, BRM‑1K armored vehicle does not fit into any military equipment category in terms of its specifications the information on which is to be submitted under the Vienna Document, while Su‑30SM combat aircraft and Ka‑52 attack helicopter have not entered into service yet.

As for two troop units not mentioned in the information submitted by the Russian Federation under the Vienna Document, there was no need to mention them since they do not meet the criteria set forth in paragraph 10 of VD 2011.

Washington insists on Russia’s “reluctance” to participate in updating of CSBMs regime in Europe. While stepping up pressure against Russia, the United States also proposes to “substantially modernize” the CSBMs regime under the Vienna Document, which in the view of the United States and its allies should be aimed at unilaterally increasing transparency of our armed forces, and in some cases – undermining the fundamental principle of the OSCE, that is taking decisions by consensus.

However, transparency cannot be achieved in the context of confrontation, sanctions politics or unwillingness to engage in military cooperation. The containment policy towards Russia undermines the very basis of negotiations on updating VD 2011.

We believe that the mechanism stipulated in VD 2011 ensures an adequate level of information on the armed forces of the OSCE participating states and corresponds to the current European security landscape.

In the present report just as before the United States passes over in silence multiple cases of noncompliance by the United States itself and its allies with the Vienna Document. For instance, on January 19, 2016, during an inspection of a U.S. military unit in Germany its representatives refused to explain the discrepancy between the declared and actual numbers of weapons. On June 6‑9, 2016, during an inspection, the Polish representatives escorting the inspection team acted in a similar fashion, which was also inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Vienna Document. Russian inspectors were denied the opportunity to observe military exercises of the NATO member states for four times, since the schedule for those exercises had been changed without notice.

 

9. Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

Since the authors of the Department of State Report referred again to Russia’s "suspension" of implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), interpreting it as a "breach" of obligations under this Treaty, it is necessary to bear in mind the following.

The United States and its allies have repeatedly bypassed the restrictive provisions of the CFE Treaty by expanding NATO. At the same time, they have made every effort to avoid Russia’s proposed modernization of the conventional arms control regime in Europe (CACE) taking into account the new military and political realities on the continent. The most vivid example of this is their refusal to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty.

It was not until Russia suspended implementation of the CFE Treaty that the United States and its allies agreed to discuss "the need to determine the fate of the CACE". However, their attempts to use the dialogue on this issue as leverage against Russia have ultimately led to freezing it.

While proclaiming the commitment "to preserve, strengthen and modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe" the United States and NATO have in fact once again opted for a policy of "deterrence" toward Russia and to change the balance of forces in Europe in their favor in recent years, inter alia, in direct proximity to the Russian border. The American attempts to "flexibly" interpret the provisions of the Russia-NATO Founding Act on "substantial combat forces", while building up heavy weapons and military equipment in NATO forward-based units and European depots, are de facto dangerous, balancing on the verge of violating the provisions of this important document.

In view of all these facts, it is pointless to return to the issue of committing to the long-standing and hopelessly obsolete CFE Treaty.

As for the prospects for the elaboration of a new CACE regime based on the principles of equal and indivisible security and the balanced rights and obligations of the sides, they must be considered in conjunction with NATO’s refusing to further strengthen its military "deterrence" measures against Russia in Europe and thereby restoring normal relations with the Russian Federation, including in military cooperation.

 

10. U.S. obligations under the Treaty on Open Skies

This is not the first time the United States has made a set of stereotyped allegations accusing Russia of violating the Treaty on Open Skies (OST). We have repeatedly provided exhaustive replies to these grievances in the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC) as well as in our comments to the State Department’s previous reports.

We must remind the U.S. once again that the maximum flight distance over the Kaliningrad region was introduced under the OST provisions and the related OSCC decision. This procedure allows for effective observation of the region the same as with other regions of the Russian Federation and adjacent states (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia).

Restrictions for OST flights near the borders of the independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been introduced in accordance with the Treaty that says that the flight path of an observation aircraft shall not be closer than ten kilometres from the border with an adjacent State that is not a State Party.

Our demand that Ukraine prepays its observation flights over the territory of the Russian Federation is the result of Kiev’s refusal to repay its debts worth billions [of rubles]. This demand can be justified by the fact that Ukraine has failed to pay bills for its representatives’ participation in certification of Russian Open Skies digital platforms in June 2016. For some reason, the Report fails to mention this.

Regrettably, the Americans do not reveal violations of the OST and noncompliance with the Treaty obligations by the United States itself, its NATO allies and other "client" states.

In the 12 years since the OST came into effect, the United States has not complied with its provision under which the States Parties are to establish special procedures to provide for aerial observation of its islands and possessions. Therefore, a considerable part of U.S. territory has been closed to observation for a long time in gross violation of the Treaty. Washington accommodated our requests only in late 2015. The relevant procedures for the Aleutian Islands still do not provide for crew rest periods, something that may affect flight safety and considerably limits Russia’s opportunities to observe this part of U.S. territory.

By refusing to provide for a sufficient number of intermediate landings, the United States (along with Canada) has practically closed its territory to the observation by Russian An-30B observation aircrafts with digital sensors in violation of Article III of the Treaty stipulating that each State Party shall be obliged to accept observation flights over its territory. The United States justified its stance by the need to clarify the relevant OSCC decision, but has taken no steps in that direction yet. At the same time, Washington organized a media campaign on the threat allegedly posed to U.S. national security by possible flights made by the Russian Open Skies aircraft equipped with digital cameras. Though it was the United States that initiated "the Treaty’s transition from film to digital optical sensors".

The United States, while assuming the right to judge other countries’ actions, continues to justify the violations of the Treaty obligations by its close partners and allies. The United States supported Georgia’s destructive decision to refuse to comply with its OST obligations to Russia. This has created a precedent of selective compliance with this multilateral treaty. Instead of condemning Turkey’s decision to close a large part of its south-eastern territories for observation in violation of the OST, Washington has cynically announced its satisfaction with Turkey’s compliance with the Treaty. Considering that it is necessary to "have regard to the security situation" in Turkey, the United States have been pressing for many years for the abolition of the hazardous airspace designated by Russia over the Chechen Republic and the adjacent areas. Though insisting on the possibility to conduct observation flights over the entire Russian territory (including Moscow) with no altitude restrictions, they prefer to ignore such restrictions in Great Britain, Norway and some other countries (by the way, the Report recognizes for the first time the link between the latter and the certification of Russian Tu-154M Lk-1 aircraft with digital sensors). We are seriously concerned about the fact that "double standards" have become a norm for our American colleagues.     

 

11. The United States freezes a tranche of Russia’s voluntary contribution to the IAEA

In March 2017, U.S. banks froze a tranche of Russia’s voluntary contribution to the IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy. The Russian bank that carried out the transaction was asked whether this payment was related to Iran. Despite the assurances of the Russian side that these funds were allocated for strictly humanitarian purposes, U.S. banks delayed the transfer for several weeks and in early April returned the frozen funds to the account of Rosatom State Corporation. As a result, the IAEA has still not received Russia’s voluntary contribution for cancer therapy made in 2017.

It appears that U.S. financial institutions would have hardly dared block a transaction coming from a sovereign state on their own. They most likely took the liberty to interpret government restrictions imposed by the U.S. as part of national sanctions that indiscriminately target even transactions of an exclusively humanitarian nature. Russia has repeatedly raised this issue in its contacts with U.S. officials, but the U.S administration has failed to explain to U.S. banks their error. It seems that Russia is being intentionally prevented from funding the IAEA humanitarian project. These actions by U.S. banks could be regarded as abusing the international financial system, since the U.S. controls dollar transactions, that in this case has an immediate bearing on the functioning of the UN system.

 

*             *             *

 

Summing up this brief review, the Foreign Ministry expects receiving an intelligible explanation of all the facts we have set out and calls on the United States to renounce the deplorable practice of making groundless claims against other states, thereby misleading the international community, whilst itself having serious deficiencies. Russia also hopes Washington reverts to the tried and tested method of settling disputes and differences through full-fledged talks, comprehensively reviewing the essence of the matter without playing to the gallery or making far-fetched accusations.

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