Russian experts to take part in Berlin conference on disarmament — foreign ministry

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BERLIN, March 7. /TASS/. Russia will participate in the March 15 disarmament conference in Berlin at the level of experts, Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Yermakov told TASS on Wednesday.

“We have received the invitation. We plan to participate in the Berlin conference at the level of experts,” the diplomat said, adding that the Russian side would pay special attention to “the issue of autonomous weapons systems and information security.”

“At the same time, I must admit that we are perplexed by Berlin’s plans to focus the conference work on arms control issues that are far from being the most pressing ones, such as the regulation of prospective missile, autonomous, biological and cyber technologies, and to omit discussions on more important problems, which are already affecting the strategic stability and international security,” the high-ranking Russian diplomat said.

Yermakov went on to say that those acute problems include the situation surrounding major international arms control and non-proliferation agreements, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

He also named convening a conference on creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and preventing an arms race in space among the problems that deserve to be addressed at a major international disarmament conference.

On March 5, Yermakov participated in a session of a subgroup on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at the high-level Russian-German working group on security policies.

German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Reiner Breul earlier said that the forum in Berlin would gather diplomats, military experts and scientists to discuss “new ideas in the arms control domain.” According to the official, the main group of participants would consist of “EU and NATO partners,” but leading military and technological powers, such as Russia, India and Japan, were also expected to join.

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