US raises doubts about Russian compliance with arms pacts

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The United States on Wednesday published a report raising doubts about whether Russia has met its obligations under international agreements on chemical and biological weapons.

The State Department Compliance Report also said that, while Russia had generally complied with the terms of the the previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expired last December, some issues had remained unresolved.

The Washington Post suggested Republican senators could use the findings to deny President Barak Obama administration's the two-thirds majority it needs to win ratification for the successor START treaty that was signed by the countries' leaders in April.

The report raised doubts about Russian compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention, which the Soviet Union signed in 1972 and to which successive Russian governments have pledged to adhere.

"The United States notes that Russia acknowledged it inherited past offensive programs of biological research and development from the former Soviet Union," the report said.

"It remains unclear, however, whether Russia has fulfilled its obligations under Article II of the BWC to destroy or divert to peaceful purposes the items specified in Article I of the Convention that it inherited," it said.

The report also raised doubts about Russian compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"Russia has completed destruction of its CWPFs (Chemical Weapons Production Facilities) scheduled for destruction, but has not met the CWPF conversion deadline," it said.

"In the absence of additional information from Russia, the United States is unable to ascertain whether Russia has declared all of its CW stockpile, all CWPFs, and all of its CW development facilities," the report said.

As for the original START treaty, which slashed long-range nuclear weapons stockpiles, it said Russia was in compliance with its "central limits for the 15-year term of the treaty," such as meeting the seven-year reduction final ceilings of 6,000 warheads.

However, it said "a number of long-standing compliance issues that were raised in the START Treaty's Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission remained unresolved when the treaty expired in December...

"The United States raised new compliance issues since the 2005 report. The United States considered several of these to have been closed," the report said.

"A number of the remaining issues highlighted the different interpretations of the parties about how to implement the complex inspection and verification provisions of the START Treaty," it said.

© 2010 AFP

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