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- the Editors at Arms Control Today
March 16: Crimea Referendum & New START
Tensions are rising in Ukraine as Russian military forces have been deployed to the eastern boarder of Ukraine and a referendum on secession of Crimea is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 16. Should the referendum pass, U.S. and European leaders have said they may impose further restrictions on Russia, including possible economic sanctions and travel bans on Russian officials and military officers. The EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Monday, March 17 to discuss the situation.
In another potential escalation of the Ukraine situation, Russian media reports published March 9 suggested that Russia may be prepared to suspend receiving inspection teams as required under the 2010 New START Treaty because of “groundless threats to Russia from the U.S. and NATO regarding its Ukrainian policy are considered by us as an unfriendly gesture and allow to declare force majuere.”
According to the Part Five, Section IX of the Protocol of the New START Treaty, the only basis for the cancellation of inspections are “circumstances brought about by force majuere,” which is an event that is a result of the elements of nature, as opposed to one caused by human behavior.
According to March 14 an email from a senior official with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Arms Control Association, March 14, Russia intends to fully comply with it’s commitments under current arms control agreements between the two countries. He referred to a March 12 statement by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, who told reporters on Wednesday: “We intend to continue to fulfill [our] international obligations and to continue the practice of voluntary transparency in the extent to which it will respond to our interests. [Of] course, this applies fully to the START Treaty and the Vienna Document [of] 2011.”
March 17: P5+1 and Iran Political Talks Resume
Talks will resume in Vienna, Austria on a final phase agreement to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In February, negotiators from the United States, its P5+1 partners (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran agreed to a framework and timetable to guide the talks. At this meeting, the negotiators may begin to exchange specific proposals for resolving several tough issues.
For further analysis, see: “Final Phase P5+1/Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Realistic Options on the Key Issues,” ACA Issue Brief, Feb. 26; and “Crafting a Well-Rounded Nuclear Deal With Iran,” by George Perkovich, and “The Case for Zero Enrichment in Iran,” by Michael Singh in the March issue of Arms Control Today.