Russia not in compliance with treaty obligations

Washington Post:

The United States believes Russia is not fully complying with international pacts involving chemical and biological weapons, although Moscow has settled most questions about violations of a nuclear arms treaty with the United States, according to a State Department report to be made public Wednesday.

The State Department Compliance Report had been requested earlier this month by seven of the eight Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They were concerned because the last report in 2005 highlighted what they described as "direct violations of START I by the Russians, " a reference to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in 1991.

The report comes at a crucial time, as the Senate considers a new treaty that would replace START I. The Obama administration hopes to have it ratified by year's end, when Democrats will likely lose some of their Senate seats. The Foreign Relations Committee could vote on the treaty as early as next week.

But key Republicans are establishing tough conditions for approval -- including ironclad commitments from the White House to dramatically increase spending on the maintenance of the nuclear-weapons complex. President Obama has tried to address those concerns by laying out a plan to spend $80 billion on the nuclear weapons complex over the next decade.

The new compliance report, obtained by the Washington Post, says that several issues raised in the 2005 version have been resolved, on subjects such as the movement of Russian road-mobile missiles and inspection of reentry vehicles. But the report may nonetheless fuel the debate over the new treaty, because it says a number of other compliance issues remained unresolved when the treaty expired last December. The unclassified version of the report does not identify them.

To pass, the treaty will need at least eight Republican votes plus those of all 57 Democrats and the two independents. Most Republicans haven't yet indicated which way they will go.

In recent weeks, the battle over the treaty has intensified, with the Heritage Foundation launching a nationwide campaign against it, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney branding it Obama's "worst foreign policy mistake."


The document says the U.S. government does not believe Russia is in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention because it has not declared all its stockpiles nor destroyed those it has acknowledged, despite a 1997 plan to do so.

The report also says Russia may not be in compliance with the international convention banning biological weapons. Russia committed in 1992 to dismantle a secret biological weapons program it inherited from the Soviet Union. Although Russia has said it is in compliance, it has "not satisfactorily documented whether this program was terminated," according to the report.
The ariticle does not say why the Russians are not in compliance. It also does not query the Russians for answers. The State Department also seems to lack curiosity about the lack of compliance. There has apparently been some testimony suggesting a lack of concern about compliance on the new treaty. That makes you wonder why we bother with the thing to begin with.


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