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Russia's Lavrov Pessimistic About Bilateral Security Talks With U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at the 2017 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference at the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow on October 20.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at the 2017 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference at the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow on October 20.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the world should not expect "considerable results in the foreseeable future" from strategic stability talks between Russia and the United States.

In an October 20 speech at a nonproliferation conference in Moscow, Lavrov also described the situation surrounding the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as a "stalemate" in which Washington "refuses to clarify" its allegations that Russia has violated the treaty.

He said Moscow had its own concerns about possible U.S. violations and accused Washington of "keeping silent" about its own "unscrupulousness."

Lavrov's comments come one day after similar remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Putin said Moscow would respond "immediately and symmetrically" if the United States withdrew from the INF.

Lavrov also said Russia was "skeptical" about the usefulness of further bilateral talks with the United States in the format of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Instead, he urged an expanded format for nuclear-disarmament talks.

"The numbers set by the existent treaty are bringing U.S. and Russian arsenals close to the parameters that other nuclear countries have achieved," Lavrov said.

The foreign minister also expressed Russia's support for the landmark 2015 Iranian nuclear deal under which Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

U.S. President Donald Trump on October 13 refused to certify Iran's compliance with what he called a "flawed" agreement and urged modifications.

Lavrov said that "any changes in the plan adopted by a consensus require the consent of every member of the six-nation group and, of course, Iran." The treaty was agreed by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.

"Like our European counterparts, I am confident any attempts to start such a conversation [about modifying the agreement] may bury this important agreement," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also called on the international community to make "proactive diplomatic efforts" to prevent a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

He called on "responsible members of the international community" to support a Russian-Chinese road map for defusing the crisis with North Korea that calls for parallel talks on North Korea's nuclear weaponry and the overall security situation in the region.

"There is no alternative to a diplomatic settlement of the nuclear issue on the basis of dialogue," Lavrov said.

U.S. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said on October 19 that North Korea was "on the cusp" of achieving the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster on October 19 said the world was "in a race to resolve this [issue] short of military action."

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests, including its most powerful one in August. It has fired 22 missiles in 15 tests in 2017.

With reporting by CNN, TASS, Reuters, AP, and Rossia 24
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