US-Russian consultations over requirements of nonproliferation of mass destruction weapons were held in Washington on February 3-4. As is known, George W. Bush announced his new proposals in the nonproliferation sector during his visit to Poland on May 31, 2003. The US president proposes military structures and intelligence services to cooperate within the framework of this initiative. He also proposes to intercept ships and jetliners if there is а suspicion that they transport mass destruction weapons and their components. To date ten nations, including Australia and Japan, have supported this initiative. Meanwhile, Russia does not hurry to support these initiatives yet, and holds consultations over this issue. Russian and US military experts held such consultations last Tuesday and Wednesday. The Russian delegation was headed by Colonel-General Anatoly Mazurkevich, chief of the central international military cooperation department of the Defense Ministry. Colonel-General Yury Baluyevsky, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff, stated that Russia tried to receive explanations regarding some specific issues of the initiative.

The general noted: “This concerns the meaning of the word “interception”, which the US proposes to apply to jetliners suspected of transporting components of mass destruction weapons. Interception means that we must force а jetliner to land and destroy if it refuses to obey.” The general noted: “At the same time, the word “interception” also means an ordinary search on board а ship or jetliner. This is а very specific feature. Russia has its own laws on defense and the state border, and US proposals conflict with them. I am not а lawyer but in my opinion the Russian legislation has very strict nonproliferation requirements.”

As is known, US-Russian contacts in the nonproliferation sector began after George W. Bush announced his proposal and US Deputy State Secretary John Bolton visited Moscow. He met with Russian generals and diplomats last Friday and held discussions over the US president’s initiatives. Mr. Baluyevsky stated on January 30 that “Russia agrees with two out four statements made by George W. Bush. These statements concern the necessity of exchanging information and solving issues of operational compatibility of troops of the Russian Federation and nations, which joined the US initiative.” Yury Baluyevsky stated: “I do not comment on the third proposal, which concerns the necessity of toughening the national legislation in the nonproliferation sector. The fourth proposal which concerns cooperation in intercepting jetliners and ships suspected of transporting mass destruction weapons can only be considered after Russia decides to join the US initiative.”

The deputy chief of the General Staff said: “The military will be prepared to fulfil this initiative after solving specific issues connected with the use of military force for solving concrete tasks. Our participation in this initiative depends on concrete measures. I think that each nation can participate in the US initiative.”

The representative of the General Staff expressed concern about а decision to compile а list of unreliable nations. He noted: “Representatives of nations, which joined the initiative, compiled а list of so-called unreliable nations, which includes North Korea and Iran, at the second meeting. It is not clear if Russia will not be added to this list in the future.”

In other words, Russia’s position toward initiatives aimed at combating terrorism and proliferation of mass destruction weapons remains specific. On the one hand, it supports activities aimed at destroying mass destruction weapons and terrorists’ bases in Afghanistan and Chechnya. On the other hand, Russia does not want to obey the US, which is prepared to violate international laws under the guise of а combat against terrorism. It should be noted that the UN and other international organizations have efficient tools for combating proliferation of mass destruction weapons.

А source in the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the interests of the Russian Federation and the US in the nonproliferation sector coincide, and Moscow and Washington can cooperate in combating proliferation of mass destruction weapons using international mechanisms. The source noted that the US has repeatedly stated that “no illegitimate actions will be taken”. The source said: “We hope that activities carried out within the framework of this initiative will not encroach on other commitments.”

Oleg Chernov, Russian Deputy Secretary of the Security Council, stated that some questions of US-Russian relations regarding strategic offensive weapons have not been solved yet. in particular, he noted that Moscow and Washington have differences over the mandate of the commission for monitoring the realization of the US-Russian agreement on strategic offensive weapons. O. Chernov noted: “There are some questions about the tasks of this commission. This is juridical issue.” The agreement was ratified by Russia and the US last year. The document is aimed at creating а commission, which would monitor its realization. However, such structure has not been created yet. he also stated that Russia hopes for closer cooperation in scrapping chemical weapons within the framework of the Global partnership program passed at the G-8 summit according to which the West promises to allocate $20 billion for scrapping chemical weapons.