Total disarmament near impossible: Medvedev

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MUMBAI - Total disarmament seems “near impossible”, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, but expressed optimism that the US would soon ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

“Total disarmament in the near future is near impossible,” he said while interacting with students of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), adding: “The use of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) is gradually decreasing.”

On START, he said: “My colleague (US President) Barack Obama is struggling with his lawmakers in attempts to persuade them to ratify the document. I hope he will succeed.”

He, however, said that if the US does not ratify the treaty, Russia will not take it forward.

Answering a question on Russia’s relations with Iran, Medvedev said: “We have good relations with Iran, including nuclear relations. Iran should allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to its territory to inspect. All our concerns are connected to it, therefore Iran was imposed with sanctions by the UNSC.”

Asked whether he felt WikiLeaks should be promoted or condemned, Medvedev was quick to say that he would have been surprised if the question hadn’t been asked.

The Russian president said that publication of leaked US diplomatic exchanges could hurt ties between countries. “Diplomacy is a quiet activity, so the dialogue should not made public immediately.”

“However, we now live in a transparent world, where diplomatic discussions, if they come out after 50 or 100 years will not hamper relations between countries,” he added.

Medvedev also said that diplomacy is an activity that is sometimes unpopular and sometimes dramatic. “Sometimes harsh decisions have to be taken,” he said.

“When such information is leaked out, it can be hurtful to partner countries,” the Russian president added.

Asked whether Russia would have been a superpower if not for the disintegration of the USSR, Medvedev candidly said: “USSR was an illusion - that we are rich, that we don’t need anyone, that we are independent. But internally we got weakened.”

“So I will say no one should speak these words (that we are a superpower). Even Obama said we are in a multipolar society,” he added.

Speaking on the 2008 Georgia-Azerbaijan conflict, he said Russia will soon restore ties with Georgia. “In Georgia, we lost 50 people. If there is an opportunity for compromise, it should be tapped or an extradition treaty should be used. But one should not resort to the use of force until peaceful means are exhausted.”

Medvedev also visited the Centre for Research in Nanotechnology and Science and interacted with its head V. Ramgopal Rao.

He termed his India visit a success. “Yesterday we (India and Russia) signed several business, political and human interest documents. Today, I visited Agra and now I am talking to you (students of IIT-B). I will then visit the film city and see how you make movies,” he said, encapsulating his India

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