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Russian lawmakers urge NATO members to ratify arms control treaty
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08:22, July 17, 2007

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Russian lawmakers urged NATO member countries on Monday to ratify the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), in which Russia has announced suspending participation last week.

"(NATO member states) will have 150 days to decide whether or not to ratify the adapted treaty of 1999," Itar-Tass quoted head of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov as saying.

State Duma, lower house of the Russian parliament, could consider passing a law suspending Russia's participation in this agreement if NATO members failed to ratify it in five months, Itar- Tass said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the treaty due to "extraordinary circumstances which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures," said the Kremlin press service on Saturday.

"One of these circumstances is that the so-called 'recruits' - new NATO members are not committed to any obligations. Thus, they may deploy conventional weapons on their territories as many as they want and nothing may stop them," said Viktor Zavarzin, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee.

"It is clear that the CFE treaty in its present form is unable to maintain stability and ensure the balance of interests in light of the continuing military-political changes in Europe," Zavarzin was quoted as saying.

The CFE treaty aims to maintain military balance in Europe by setting limits on key categories of conventional military equipment for NATO countries and those of the rival Warsaw Pact.

It was signed in 1990 and an adapted treaty was agreed upon in 1999. So far only Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have ratified the 1999 treaty. NATO countries have refused to do so, insisting that Russia must first fulfill the so-called "Istanbul obligations" -- withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

Russia had threatened several times to withdraw from the CFE when it was at odds with the United States over U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

Putin threatened to suspend Russia's obligations under the CFE treaty in April. An extraordinary conference on June 12-15 in Vienna failed to produce an agreement on the issue.

Source: Xinhua

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