Russia believes that the withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty of 1972 is a mistake, said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov in the evening of December 17 in Brussels after the meeting with his American colleague Donald Rumsfeld. At the same time he noted that the decision of the United States had been taken unilaterally and it was not a surprise for the Russian side. Russia repeatedly outlined its arguments and there is no sense to repeat them, said the minister. At the present time, continued Igor Ivanov, Russia is trying "to return the system of international relations in the sphere of strategic stability into a normal, predictable channel." Russia comes out for attaching to future ABM agreements, "just as to other documents in the sphere of the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons, a juridically incumbent nature," he emphasised. Sergei Ivanov also said that the arising situation concerning the ABM Treaty creates a juridical vacuum also with regard "to all the treaties or the absence of such, connected with the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons." In particular, he spoke about the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests. In his opinion, the additional protocol to the international convention on the prohibition of bacteriological weapons is also in question. Apart from that, "at the present time there is no legal mechanism at all to regulate the reduction of offensive armaments," said the Russian Defence Minister. The START-1 Treaty has been practically fulfilled, having in mind the number of warheads, while the START-2 Treaty has not come in force and apparently it will never happen.
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