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U.S. Right of Reply to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov’s Remarks
Conference on Disarmament High Level Segment | Statement by Ambassador Turner
March 2, 2023

U.S. Right of Reply to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov’s Remarks

Delivered by Ambassador Bruce Turner

Conference on Disarmament High Level Segment

Thank you, Madame President. I would like to limit myself to respond to the statement made this morning by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I will not go into the remarks that were made by my colleagues more recently, but there are a few areas where we see a need to set the record straight.

First, on the New START Treaty – Russia’s decision unilaterally to suspend its participation in the Treaty is unfortunate and irresponsible. Russia’s claims of U.S. noncompliance with New START, or that the United States is helping Ukraine through inspections to target facilities, are neither credible nor constructive.

In our view, Russia is not better off in a world where the two largest nuclear powers no longer engage in bilateral arms control, and Russia’s willingness to promote instability and use irresponsible nuclear rhetoric reinforces the need for the United States and its allies to support each other.

As the United States explores next steps, we remain in full compliance with the treaty, including New START’s numerical limits.

The United States remains ready to work constructively with Russia to fully implement the New START treaty. This includes readiness to meet in the bilateral consultative commission to discuss U.S. and Russian concerns related to compliance with the treaty and to discuss all other issues related to its implementation.

We are examining what impact Russia’s suspension will have on the state of the treaty. How Russia chooses to proceed will help inform considerations of appropriate U.S. responses. The United States will ensure in any event that we remain postured to defend the United States and our allies. Russia’s purported suspension of New START also will not stop the United States from supporting Ukraine in defending itself against a brutal invasion.

On a related note, I am extremely concerned by Russia’s statements regarding the testing of nuclear weapons. I would like to reiterate that the United States supports the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and is committed to work to achieve its entry into force.

In line with the goals of the CTBT, the United States continues to observe our zero-yield nuclear explosive testing moratorium and calls on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or maintain such a moratorium. This is another attempt to divert attention from Russia’s decision to destabilize the last bilateral agreement bveween the wrol’s two leading nuclear powers.

Regarding Russia’s allegations related to the OPCW, which has been echoed by a couple of other delegations here as well, the notion that the United States or our allies is politicizing the OPCW is patently false. Russia is using that as a tactic to mask its own pattern of chemical weapons use and disinformation, including the poisoning of Mr. Aleksey Navalny.

The OPCW’s Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), the Fact-Finding Mission, and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) were all properly established consistent with the Chemical Weapons Convention: the DAT to confirm the proper and complete declaration and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons program; the Fact-Finding Mission to investigate whether chemical weapons were used in Syria; and the IIT to identify who was behind those attacks.

It is hardly intrusive to demand Syria to comply with its obligations under a Convention it willingly joined in 2013, only to violate one of its core prohibitions shortly thereafter. The IIT has independently concluded that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on eight occasions. The tireless efforts of the DAT have, for their part, forced the regime to amend its declaration 17 times. We call on the Assad regime to comply with its obligations and immediately to cease its obstruction of the OPCW’s expert teams.

Finally, madam president, I find it particularly rich that Russia has accused others of obstructing progress in the Conference on Disarmament.

Without even getting into the long list of procedural antics the Russian Federation has pulled in every disarmament body over the last several years, let me just remind us that it was Russia that blocked consensus on the CD Final Report last year and forced us to a vote on the CD UNGA Resolution. It was Russia that blocked consensus on the 10th NPT Review Conference final outcome document. It was Russia that blocked consensus on the Solemn Declaration and Article-by-Article Review at the 9th BWC Review Conference. It was Russia that unilaterally announced it was suspending participation in the New START Treaty. And it is Russia that is blocking observer states from participating in this body’s work today.

To close, madam president, It is critical, now more than ever, that nuclear powers act responsibly – in our statements, in our bilateral and multilateral decisions, and in our actions that could impact strategic arms control and non-proliferation.

Unfortunately, we are not seeing that this moment from the Russian Federation.