Russia announces tender for system to monitor potential US violations of missile treaty

© Ian Dudley
The Russian Defense Ministry has announced a state order for a system that would be capable of detecting and proving cases when the US tests new strategic weapons in violation of the ‘New START’ treaty.

The tender, placed on the Russian government website earlier this week, offers just over 72 million rubles (US$1.1 million) for the research and development of a hardware and software complex called Paritet (Russian for ‘parity’).

The system should be able to collect and process data on any ballistic missile tests conducted by the United States, including launches from submarines, and inform the Russian military and politicians when tests violate the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as ‘the New START.’

The tender states that the completed system should combine the general characteristics of the tests, the data from onboard monitors, and information about the types and trajectories of the tested weapons.

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Russia and the United States have repeatedly accused each other of undermining the New Start. Washington has said Russia is stalling on arms reduction, while Russian leaders have said the US is developing new weapons, including high-precision conventional arms that would effectively render the agreement useless.

The lack of cooperation from the US side caused Russian President Vladimir Putin to shun the Nuclear Security Summit that took place in Washington in March-April this year. "We faced a certain lack of cooperation during the preliminary stage of working on issues and topics of the summit. That's why in this case there is no participation of the Russian side," Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in comments on the decision, adding that Russia and the US would continue bilateral talks on nuclear security.

Also in March, US President Barack Obama published an article in the Washington Post in which he proposed to negotiate a reduction in the stockpiles of nuclear weapons, to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and sign a new treaty to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. In response, the head of the Russian parliamentary Committee for International Relations, Aleksey Pushkov, said that any such talks would be pointless until the two nations restore normal relations, adding that ties had been destroyed by Obama and his administration.

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Peskov also commented on Obama’s article in the Washington Post, calling the anti-Russian claims made by the US president “unfounded.” “In this particular case, the Russian side maintains its commitment to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). We see any complaints in this sphere as absolutely unfounded,” the official told the press. He added that Russia also had a number of claims concerning US adherence to the INF treaty, but believed it was not right to discuss such issues by publicly trading accusations.