Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms was signed in Prague.
A Protocol to the Treaty on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms was also signed.
The Russian Federation has made a statement on missile defence.
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Joint News Conference with US President Barack Obama
President of The United States Barack Obama: Good afternoon, everyone. I am honoured to be back here in the Czech Republic with President Medvedev and our Czech hosts to mark this historic completion of the New START treaty.
Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be back in the beautiful city of Prague.The Czech Republic, of course, is a close friend and ally of the United States, and I have great admiration and affection for the Czech people. Their bonds with the American people are deep and enduring, and Czechs have made great contributions to the United States over many decades — including in my hometown of Chicago. I want to thank the President and all those involved in helping to host this extraordinary event.
I want to thank my friend and partner, Dmitry Medvedev. Without his personal efforts and strong leadership, we would not be here today. We’ve met and spoken by phone many times throughout the negotiations of this treaty, and as a consequence we’ve developed a very effective working relationship built on candor, cooperation, and mutual respect.
One year ago this week, I came here to Prague and gave a speech outlining America’s comprehensive commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and seeking the ultimate goal of a world without them. I said then — and I will repeat now — that this is a long-term goal, one that may not even be achieved in my lifetime. But I believed then — as I do now — that the pursuit of that goal will move us further beyond the Cold War, strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, and make the United States, and the world, safer and more secure. One of the steps that I called for last year was the realisation of this treaty, so it’s very gratifying to be back in Prague today.
I also came to office committed to “resetting” relations between the United States and Russia, and I know that President Medvedev shared that commitment. As he said at our first meeting in London, our relationship had started to drift, making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people. And when the United States and Russia are not able to work together on big issues, it’s not good for either of our nations, nor is it good for the world.
Together, we’ve stopped that drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for US-Russia relations. It fulfills our common objective to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. It includes significant reductions in the nuclear weapons that we will deploy. It cuts our delivery vehicles by roughly half. It includes a comprehensive verification regime, which allows us to further build trust. It enables both sides the flexibility to protect our security, as well as America’s unwavering commitment to the security of our European allies. And I look forward to working with the United States Senate to achieve ratification for this important treaty later this year.
Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation.
While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts. And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons.
President Medvedev and I have also agreed to expand our discussions on missile defence. This will include regular exchanges of information about our threat assessments, as well as the completion of a joint assessment of emerging ballistic missiles. And as these assessments are completed, I look forward to launching a serious dialogue about Russian-American cooperation on missile defence.
But nuclear weapons are not simply an issue for the United States and Russia — they threaten the common security of all nations. A nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist is a danger to people everywhere — from Moscow to New York; from the cities of Europe to South Asia. So next week, 47 nations will come together in Washington to discuss concrete steps that can be taken to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years.
And the spread of nuclear weapons to more states is also an unacceptable risk to global security — raising the spectre of arms races from the Middle East to East Asia. Earlier this week, the United States formally changed our policy to make it clear that those [non]-nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their non-proliferation obligations will not be threatened by America’s nuclear arsenal. This demonstrates, once more, America’s commitment to the NPT as a cornerstone of our security strategy. Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity. Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international recognition.
That includes accountability for those that break the rules — otherwise the NPT is just words on a page. That’s why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations. We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran. And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security.
While these issues are a top priority, they are only one part of the US-Russia relationship. Today, I again expressed my deepest condolences for the terrible loss of Russian life in recent terrorist attacks, and we will remain steadfast partners in combating violent extremism. We also discussed the potential to expand our cooperation on behalf of economic growth, trade and investment, as well as technological innovation, and I look forward to discussing these issues further when President Medvedev visits the United States later this year, because there is much we can do on behalf of our security and prosperity if we continue to work together.
When one surveys the many challenges that we face around the world, it’s easy to grow complacent, or to abandon the notion that progress can be shared. But I want to repeat what I said last year in Prague: When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp.
This majestic city of Prague is in many ways a monument to human progress. And this ceremony is a testament to the truth that old adversaries can forge new partnerships. I could not help but be struck the other day by the words of Arkady Brish, who helped build the Soviet Union’s first atom bomb. At the age of 92, having lived to see the horrors of a World War and the divisions of a Cold War, he said, “We hope humanity will reach the moment when there is no need for nuclear weapons, when there is peace and calm in the world.”
It’s easy to dismiss those voices. But doing so risks repeating the horrors of the past, while ignoring the history of human progress. The pursuit of peace and calm and cooperation among nations is the work of both leaders and peoples in the 21st century. For we must be as persistent and passionate in our pursuit of progress as any who would stand in our way.
Once again, President Medvedev, thank you for your extraordinary leadership.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
I fully agree with what my colleague President Obama has just said, that in this hall a few minutes ago a historic event really did occur: the signing of a new Russia-US Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. This ten-year agreement will govern what happens in the near future. It replaces the Treaty on strategic offensive arms that has now expired [START 1] and the other Treaty, the Russia-US Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty [SORT].
First and foremost I would like to thank my colleague, the President of the United States, for his ongoing cooperation in this very complex matter and for the reasonable compromises that have been achieved thanks to the work of our two teams [of negotiators]. We have already thanked them today, but I would like to thank them once again in the presence of the media and the public for their excellent work.
I would also particularly like to thank the leadership of the Czech Republic and President Klaus for the invitation to hold the signing ceremony here in Prague, in this beautiful city with its wonderful spring weather that encourages us to be optimistic about the future. I think this signing will start a new page in cooperation between our countries and create a safer environment for life on our planet.
When we were working on these issues, we focused primarily on the quality of the treaty. And the negotiating process was not simple, but again our negotiation teams have been working in a highly professional and constructive way, working non-stop, virtually round the clock. And this enabled us to do something that only a few months ago seemed highly unlikely, perhaps even to members of the respective delegations, namely meet tight deadlines set for the preparation of a comprehensive agreement and be ready to sign it. As a result, we have come up with a document that fully strikes a balance between Russian and American interests. The main thing is that there are no winners and losers. Rather, this is what they call a win-win situation [in English]. I think that accurately describes what we have accomplished. Both sides have won by improving their security, and this victory is also a victory for the global community. The new agreement reinforces global strategic stability and simultaneously facilitates the transition to a new, higher level in our relations, in relations with the United States of America.
Although the content of the Treaty has been widely publicised, I want to point out once again what we have achieved, because these are very important things. The Treaty allows for 1,550 weapons to be deployed by each side, which is about one-third below the current level. It provides for a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers. This is less than half the previous level. Finally there is a limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers for such missiles, as well as deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers – again, less than half the level that existed before the signing of the Treaty. At the same time, each party shall independently determine the composition and the structure of its strategic offensive arms. These are the essentials of the agreement.
The Treaty also establishes data exchange provisions. This is an issue my colleagues and I know inside out. We talked so much about telemetry that now we are real experts in this field, perhaps the best in the world. The Treaty also lays out measures relating to conversion and the elimination of inspection and verification procedures, and of course confidence-building measures. The verification mechanism is now simpler and less expensive as compared to the previous treaty, but at the same time it provides for proper verification, irreversibility and verifiability, and of course transparency of the process of reducing strategic offensive arms.
We believe – and our American partners are well aware of this; we said it quite openly – that the Treaty can be effective and viable only if the US refrains from increasing its missile defence capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively in such a way that threatens the potential of Russia's strategic nuclear forces. This is the essence of the Russian Federation's Statement [on Missile Defence] made in connection with the signing of the Treaty and which will of course be published.
We regard our main task after the signing of the Treaty to be its ratification, as the President of the United States has just said. It's not just signing the Treaty that’s important but also synchronising the process of its ratification. As I understand it, our American partners intend to submit this document to the Senate for consideration as soon as possible. We will also work with our Federal Assembly [Russian parliament] to maintain the necessary dynamics of the ratification process. In general, we are satisfied with the work we have done – this is a good result.
But of course today we discussed more than the fact of signing the Treaty, because the documents had already been prepared. We discussed a whole range of important key issues, issues of concern to all the countries. Naturally we could not ignore Iran's nuclear programme. Unfortunately, Iran is not responding to a number of constructive proposals that have been made in this regard, and we cannot turn a blind eye to this. So I do not exclude the possibility that the [UN] Security Council will have to reconsider this matter.
Our position is well-known but I am happy to go over it again briefly here. Of course sanctions by themselves rarely lead to any concrete results, although sometimes they cannot be avoided. In any case, those sanctions should be “smart”, designed to help achieve specific non-proliferation objectives, rather than harm the Iranian people and create a humanitarian catastrophe. We will pay close attention to what our partners are doing, but in any case our actions will be determined by the political and diplomatic precepts outlined by the Group of Six [international mediators Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States]. Naturally the discussion of these issues will continue.
I see the progress towards reaching a new quality level in our relations with the United States (as President Obama just said), relations that take into account our mutual interests and that are based on predictability, as a weighty result of our today’s meeting. In this regard the Treaty we just signed will help bring us together. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention again the importance of our personal relations, what is generally called personal chemistry, since I think that they have been key in helping us to reach an agreement.
But for good relations we need more than just effective communication between the presidents. This is certainly important, but the presidents themselves can’t resolve the issues dealt with by the executive structures. So we need to establish working contacts at all levels of executive power. The Russian-American Presidential Commission has done good work, and its coordinators, the US Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton] and Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs [Sergei Lavrov], recently informed us of what they have accomplished. Almost all of the 16 working groups that we created have held meetings and identified priorities for the coming years. We are very happy about this.
Our agenda is full of specific projects. Today we had a good discussion about the economy, which in my opinion is the most neglected sphere of Russian-American relations. We have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue concerning strategic stability and security; now we need to move forward on economic issues. I am very glad that in this discussion we talked about the development of high-tech projects, the creation of the so-called new, high-tech, knowledge-based economy, which is possible only thanks to cross-border cooperation. In this respect we have also established very good contacts. Now the main thing is to turn these discussions into concrete agreements. I would like that to happen during my visit to the United States of America that my colleague and I have scheduled for this summer.
I am convinced that all that has been done so far is only the beginning of a long journey. I would be very disappointed if relations between the Russian Federation and the United States were confined to the limitation of strategic offensive arms, although we do have a special responsibility that we are ready to assume. We will continue down this path. But we must also move forward in other areas, for the sake of our peoples and for the situation in the world at large. As I see it, today we have made a very important step in this direction, a step toward building trust and understanding between our two countries.
Once again, I would like to thank President Barack Obama for his excellent cooperation in this area.
Question: How will the two sides get around their differences on missile defence to work on a follow-on treaty, since that seems to be the biggest impediment to further arsenal reductions, and can the two sides resolve this issue by working out a cooperative agreement on missile defence?
Barack Obama: You know, one of the things that we discussed when we first met in Moscow was the relationship between offensive and defensive capabilities. And what I made clear was that our missile defence systems were not directed at changing the strategic balance between the United States and Russia, but were instead directed at protecting the American people from potentially new attacks from missiles launched from third countries.
We recognise, however, that Russia has a significant interest in this issue, and what we’ve committed to doing is to engaging in a significant discussion not only bilaterally but also having discussions with our European allies and others about a framework in which we can potentially cooperate on issues of missile defence in a way that preserves US national security interests, preserves Russia’s national security interests, and allows us to guard against a rogue missile from any source.
So I’m actually optimistic that having completed this treaty, which signals our strong commitment to a reduction in overall nuclear weapons, and that I believe is going to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, that sends a signal around the world that the United States and Russia are prepared to once again take leadership in moving in the direction of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, as well as nuclear materials, that we will have built the kind of trust not only between Presidents but also between governments and between peoples that allows us to move forward in a constructive way.
I’ve repeatedly said that we will not do anything that endangers or limits my ability as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people. And we think that missile defence can be an important component of that. But we also want to make clear that the approach that we’ve taken in no way is intended to change the strategic balance between the United States and Russia. And I’m actually confident that, moving forward, as we have these discussions, it will be part of a broader set of discussions about, for example, how we can take tactical nuclear weapons out of theatre, the possibilities of us making more significant cuts not only in deployed but also non-deployed missiles. There are a whole range of issues that I think that we can make significant progress on. I'm confident that this is an important first step in that direction.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would also like to say a few words on this matter. The relationship between missile defence and the START Treaty was one of the most complicated topics in our discussion, and nobody is trying to deny that. But now, both sides are satisfied with the wording of the Treaty that was signed today. We see this as the very basis on which we will implement this Treaty.
Indeed, we are not indifferent to what will happen with ballistic missile defence which is related to the composition of our potentials. We will monitor how these processes unfold. That is why the preamble of the Treaty includes language that, to a certain degree, replicates a certain legal principle of unchangeable circumstances, which served as a basis for finalising the Treaty. But this is a flexible process and we are interested in cooperating as closely as possible on this matter with our American partners.
We appreciate the steps that were taken by the current administration of the United States of America concerning the decisions made with regard to the ABM Treaty by the previous administration. This contributed significantly to our progress. This does not mean that we now have no differences in opinion, but we do have the desire and the will to work on this issue. We also offered our services to the United States in creating a global missile defence system which should be our concern in light of our world’s vulnerabilities and terrorist threats, including the possibility that terrorists could make use of nuclear weapons. In this regard, like my colleague, the President of the United States, I am optimistic and I believe that we can come to an agreement on these issues.
Question: I have two questions, one for each President. My first question is to Mr Obama.
This is not the first time that Moscow and Washington reach agreement on reducing strategic offensive arms, but as you have already mentioned, Russia and the United States are not the only nations in the world that have nuclear weapons. When can we expect other nuclear nations to sign documents such as the one signed today on limiting nuclear arms? Will you proceed along this path together with Russia? Do you see Russia’s readiness for that?
And my second question is to the President of Russia.
You said that it sometimes seems like Moscow and Washington are unable to agree on anything other than the mutual reduction of arms.
Should we expect to see any examples to the contrary, and if so, what will they be?
Barack Obama: First of all, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, the United States and Russia account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. And given this legacy of the Cold War, it is critical for us to show significant leadership. That, I think, is what we’ve begun to do with this follow-on START treaty.
Other countries are going to have to be making a series of decisions about how they approach the issue of their nuclear weapons stockpiles. And as I’ve repeatedly said, and I'm sure Dmitry feels the same way with respect to his country, we are going to preserve our nuclear deterrent so long as other countries have nuclear weapons, and we are going to make sure that that stockpile is safe and secure and effective.
But I do believe that as we look out into the 21st century, that more and more countries will come to recognise that the most important factors in providing security and peace to their citizens will depend on their economic growth, will depend on the capacity of the international community to resolve conflicts; it will depend on having a strong conventional military that can protect our nations’ borders; and that nuclear weapons in an increasingly interdependent world will make less and less sense as the cornerstone of security policy.
But that’s going to take some time, and I think each country is going to have to make its own determinations. The key is for the United States and Russia to show leadership on this front because we are so far ahead of every nation with respect to possession of nuclear weapons.
The primary concerns that we identified in a recent Nuclear Posture Review, essentially a declaratory statement of US policy with respect to nuclear weapons, said that our biggest concerns right now are actually the issues of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation — more countries obtaining nuclear weapons; those weapons being less controllable, less secure; nuclear materials floating around the globe. And that’s going to be a major topic of the discussion that we have in Washington on Monday.
The United States and Russia have a history already, a decade-long history, of locking down loose nuclear materials. I believe that our ability to move forward already on sanctions with respect to North Korea, the intense discussions that we’re having with respect to Iran, will increasingly send a signal to countries that are not abiding by their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations, that they will be isolated. All those things will go toward sending a general message that we need to move in a new direction. And I think leadership on that front is important.
Last point I'll make, I will just anticipate or coach the question about other areas of cooperation. Our respective foreign ministers — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — have been heading a bilateral commission that has been working intensively on a whole range of issues. And President Medvedev and myself identified a series of key areas on the economic front, in trade relations, the potential for joint cooperation on various industries, how we can work on innovation and sparking economic growth. We've already worked together closely in the G20; I think we can build on that bilaterally.
There are issues of counterterrorism that are absolutely critical to both of us, and I just want to repeat how horrified all of America was at the recent attacks in Moscow. We recognise that that's a problem that can happen anywhere at any time, and it’s important for Russia and the United States to work closely on those issues.
And then there are people-to-people contacts and figuring out how we can make sure that there’s more interaction and exchange between our two countries on a whole range of issues within civil society.
So I'm very optimistic that we're going to continue to make progress on all of these fronts. But I think we should take pride in this particular accomplishment because it speaks not only to the security of our two nations but also the security of the world as a whole.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will say a couple words with regard to the first part of the question, which was addressed to my colleague, Barack. It is true that we hold nearly 90 percent of all nuclear stockpiles, which we inherited from the Cold War era. We will do everything we agreed upon; as the Russian Federation and the United States have a special mission with regard to this problem. But we are absolutely not indifferent to what is happening with nuclear arms in other nations and in the world in general. We cannot imagine a situation where the Russian Federation and the United States would continue making efforts to disarm while the rest of the world moves in the opposite direction. We are ultimately responsible for the global situation on this matter and we have responsibilities toward our nations.
Thus, we need to analyse in package all issues related to implementing this Treaty, as well as non-proliferation process and the threat of nuclear terrorism. I hope that other nuclear nations will not perceive today’s signing of the Treaty as excluding them from this issue. Quite on the contrary, they must be as much involved in this process as possible playing a very active role there, and they must also be aware of whatever new developments.
In this regard, we welcome the initiative that was suggested by the President of the United States to hold a conference in Washington and discuss these matters. I will participate, and this conference will be a good platform for discussing issues of non-proliferation.
Now, to answer the question about what common ground we have besides nuclear arms problem. There are many things in this world that connect us with the United States, as well as with other nations.
Today, we had a truly good conversation that did not begin with discussing the documents to be signed – thankfully, everything had already been agreed upon – or discussing acute international topics such as Iran, North Korea, or the Middle East. Instead, we began by discussing our economic relations.
I have already said that we had a real breakdown in economic cooperation. I looked at some statistics today. Cumulative American investments in the Russian economy are very low – about 7 billion dollars – and this figure has decreased somewhat as a result of the crisis. Russian investments in the United States are about the same, which I suppose signifies symmetry of our bilateral interest.
We do not have such high investment volumes in many countries, but if, for example, we compare these figures with foreign investments in the US economy by other nations, including states that are comparable to the Russian Federation in terms of economic potential, then we see a 20- to 30-fold difference, so there remains much to be done here. Besides, there are many projects we discussed today, involving modernisiation and launching high-tech economy in the Russian Federation. We are open to cooperation in this area and I will say frankly that we would like to take advantage of American expertise. We also talked about cooperation in the energy and transportation sectors. A little while ago, I suggested reviewing the issue of building a large modern cargo plane, because only the US and the Russian Federation have this unique experience. We also talked about nuclear cooperation.
Indeed, there are many potential economic projects. It probably isn’t up to the presidents to deal with each of them, but there are some key things that we are obligated to monitor, because they influence relations between businesses and all those interested in promoting business contacts.
Finally, humanitarian ties and connections between people are very important, and so it is vital for us to do everything possible so that our citizens are respectful of each other, understand one another better, and are guided by the finest examples of American and Russian culture, rather than seeing each other only in the context of media coverage. We need to be more thoughtful and sensitive toward one another. Only then will we have good relations, and I am very much hoping for that.
Question: Thank you, President Medvedev and President Obama. For President Obama first, could you elaborate on how the yearlong negotiations over the New START treaty have advanced US cooperation with Russia on Iran, and give us a sense of when you will pursue, move forward in the United Nations and next week with sanctions discussions, and what those sanctions might look like?
And for President Medvedev, could you address whether Russia could accept sanctions against Iran specifically dealing with its energy industry and energy sector?
Barack Obama: Discussions about sanctions on Iran have been moving forward over the last several weeks. In fact, they’ve been moving forward over the last several months. We’re going to start seeing some ramped-up negotiations taking place in New York in the coming weeks. And my expectation is that we are going to be able to secure strong, tough sanctions on Iran this spring.
Now, I think there are two ways in which these START negotiations have advanced or at least influenced Russia-US discussions around Iran. The first is obviously that President Medvedev and I have been able to build up a level of trust and our teams have been able to work together in such a way that we can be frank, we can be clear, and that helped to facilitate, then, our ability, for example, to work together jointly to present to Iran reasonable options that would allow it to clearly distance itself from nuclear weapons and pursue a path of peaceful nuclear energy.
That wasn’t just an approach that was taken by the United States and Russia, but it was an approach taken by the P5-plus-1 as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.
So what we’ve seen from the start is that a host of countries, but — led by countries like the United States and Russia, have said to Iran, we are willing to work through diplomatic channels to resolve this issue. And unfortunately, Iran has consistently rebuffed our approach. And I think that Russia has been a very strong partner in saying that it has no interest in bringing down Iranian society or the Iranian government, but it does have an interest, as we all do, in making sure that each country is following its international obligations.
The second way in which I think the START treaty has influenced our discussions about Iran is it’s sent a strong signal that the United States and Iran — or the United States and Russia are following our own obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that our interest in Iran or North Korea or any other country following the NPT is not based on singling out any one country, but rather sends a strong signal that all of us have an obligation, each country has an obligation to follow the rules of the road internationally to ensure a more secure future for our children and our grandchildren.
And so I think the fact that we are signing this treaty, the fact that we are willing, as the two leading nuclear powers, to continually work on reducing our own arsenals, I think should indicate the fact that we are willing to be bound by our obligations, and we’re not asking any other countries to do anything different, but simply to follow the rules of the road that have been set forth and have helped to maintain at least a lack of the use of nuclear weapons over the last several decades, despite, obviously, the Cold War.
And the concern that I have in particular, a concern that I think is the most profound security threat to the United States, is that with further proliferation of nuclear weapons, with states obtaining nuclear weapons and potentially using them to blackmail other countries or potentially not securing them effectively or passing them on to terrorist organisations, that we could find ourselves in a world in which not only state actors but also potentially non-state actors are in possession of nuclear weapons, and even if they don’t use them, would then be in a position to terrorize the world community.
That’s why this issue is so important, and that’s why we are going to be pushing very hard to make sure that both smart and strong sanctions end up being in place soon to send a signal to Iran and other countries that this is an issue that the international community takes seriously.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s look at one question: why do we need sanctions? Is it because we enjoy repressing some state, or is there another reason? I am certain that everyone here today would say sanctions are necessary in order to motivate a person or a state to behave properly – to act in a way that complies with international law and the responsibilities that the state has accepted.
Thus, in talking about sanctions, I have to agree with what Mr Obama just said, and this has been the Russian Federation’s position from the very beginning. Sanctions are not always successful – far from it – but sanctions should be smart and capable of motivating a state to act in an allowable manner. Now, the nature of the sanctions is a separate discussion all together.
Today, we are indeed talking in a very sincere, simple, and open manner about what is and what is not acceptable. I should say openly that I have outlined our understanding of the limits of such sanctions, and I naturally stated that in making these decisions as President of the Russian Federation, I will proceed with two premises in mind: first, we need to prompt Iran to act in accordance with the law, and second (and no less importantly), we need to be guided by our national interests.
Thus, we can move toward smart sanctions which could motivate the correct behaviour. I am certain that our teams – the people in charge of consulting on this issue – will continue talks on this matter.
Question: No doubt, we are all concerned about whether this treaty will be ratified by the national parliaments. You have already mentioned you intend to work with the parliamentarians to ensure ratification. I would like to know what difficulties you foresee in this path and how you evaluate your chances of success.
Dmitry Medvedev: Who do you address your question to?
Answer: Both Presidents.
Dmitry Medvedev: OK. It seems Barack believes that we may have more problems when it comes to ratification. This may be true.
I will say what I think on this matter. Certainly, under our constitutions and domestic laws treaties like this one, international treaties of prime importance, are subject to ratification by our parliaments. Soon, we will also initiate all the necessary procedures so that our parliament – the State Duma – begins reviewing the Treaty.
Here is what I believe is imperative, and what I will use as a starting point. I think that we need to synchronise the submission of these documents for ratification, so that neither side feels encroached upon. In our history, especially during the Soviet period, we saw examples when one state ratified a treaty, while the other said, “We’re sorry, but circumstances have changed.” We cannot allow something like this to happen again. Thus, we need synchronous, attentive, exceedingly open discussions on this issue, and subsequent approval by our parliaments. Russia will not delay this.
Barack Obama: The United States Senate has the obligation of reviewing any treaty and, ultimately, ratifying it. Fortunately there is a strong history of bipartisanship when it comes to the evaluation of international treaties, particularly arms control treaties.
And so I have already engaged in consultation with the chairmen of the relevant committees in the United States Senate. We are going to broaden that consultation now that this treaty has been signed. My understanding is, is that both in Russia and the United States, it’s going to be posed on the Internet, appropriate to a 21st century treaty. And so people not only within government but also the general public will be able to review, in an open and transparent fashion, what it is that we’ve agreed to.
I think what they will discover is that this is a well-crafted treaty that meets the interests of both countries; that meets the interests of the world in the United States and Russia reducing its nuclear arsenals and setting the stage for potentially further reductions in the future.
And so I'm actually quite confident that Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, having reviewed this, will see that the United States has preserved its core national security interests, that it is maintaining a safe and secure and effective nuclear deterrent, but that we are beginning to once again move forward, leaving the Cold War behind, to address new challenges in new ways. And I think the START Treaty represents an important first step in that direction, and I feel confident that we are going to be able to get it ratified.
All right? Thank you very much, everybody.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, sir. Next time.