Putin warns US policy creating new arms race
Updated: 2007-02-10 21:06
Vladimir Putin makes a point during his speech at the Bayerischer Hof
hotel during the 43rd Conference on Security Policy in Munich, February
10, 2007. [Reuters]
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that the United States'
increased use of military force is creating a new arms race, with smaller
nations turning toward developing nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a
conference of the world's top security officials, including Iranian nuclear
negotiator Ali Larijani, Putin said nations "are witnessing an almost
uncontained hyper use of force in international relations."
the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," he told
the 250 officials, including more than 40 defense and foreign ministers.
"This is very dangerous: Nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can
hide behind international law," he said through a translator.
nourishing an arms race with the desire of countries to get nuclear weapons," he
added, without singling out any particular nation.
In a harshly critical
speech, Putin also voiced concern about US plans to build a missile defense
system in eastern Europe, probably Poland and the Czech Republic, and the
expansion of NATO as possible challenges to Russia.
"The process of NATO
expansion has nothing to do with modernization of the alliance or with ensuring
security in Europe," Putin said. "On the contrary, it is a serious factor
provoking reduction of mutual trust."
He also dismissed suggestions that
the European Union and NATO had the right to intervene alone in crisis regions.
"The legitimate use of force can only done by the United Nations, it
cannot be replaced by EU or NATO," he said.
On the missile defense
system, Putin said: "I don't want to accuse anyone of being aggressive" but
suggested it would seriously change the balance of power and could provoke an
"That balance will be upset completely and one
side will have a feeling of complete security and given a free hand in local,
and probably in global, conflicts..." he said. "We need to respond to this."
US Senator Joseph Lieberman called Putin's comments "provocative,"
saying the charge that the US "aspired to get unipolar power or acted
unilaterally is just not borne out by the facts."
"Even our involvement
in Iraq, certainly Afghanistan, is pursuant to United Nations resolutions," said
Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent. "So that was provocative and wrong."
Asked if he had any reaction to Putin's charges, US Defense Secretary
Robert Gates just shook his head and said no.
Putin's spokesman Dimitry
Peskov said the Russian leader did not intend to be confrontational, but
acknowledged it was his harshest criticism of the United States since he was
elected in March 2000.
"The reason for his comments is Russia's concern
about the growing amount of conflicts and the malfunctioning of international
law," Peskov said.
"Until we get rid of unilateralism in international
affairs, until we exclude the possibility of imposing one country's views on
others, we will not have stability."
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela
Merkel said Tehran needs to accept demands made by the UN and the International
Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear program.
"There is no way around
this," Merkel said. "What we are talking about here is a very, very sensitive
technology, and for that reason we need a high degree of transparency, which
Iran has failed to provide, and if Iran does not do so, then the alternative for
Iran is to slip further into isolation."
Putin also pushed for an
Iranian response, saying he did "not quite understand why" Tehran had not yet
addressed the demands.
"I think together we should be patient and work
to provide incentives to show the Iranian leadership that cooperation is much
better than confrontation with the international community," Putin said.
On the sidelines of the conference, Larijani defended his country's
nuclear program as peaceful, saying: "We are no threat to our region or other
countries," while indicating a willingness to return to negotiations.
"We are prepared to work together with other countries for a
comprehensive peace," he said.
Merkel, whose country holds the rotating
European Union presidency, emphasized the international community's support for
Israel and said there was a unified resolve to prevent Iran from developing
"We are determined to prevent the threat posed by an
Iranian military nuclear program," she said.
The annual Munich
Conference on Security Policy, now in its 43rd year, often is used as an
opportunity for officials to conduct diplomacy in an informal setting.
Some 3,500 police were on hand to keep some 1,300 protesters in check,
officials said. Scattered arrests were reported, but police said there were no
Heading into the conference, Larijani said he planned
to use the gathering as an opportunity to discuss about Iran's nuclear program,
the first talks with Western officials since limited UN sanctions were imposed
Larijani was expected to meet with German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
conference this year focuses on "Global Crises, Global Responsibilities,"
looking at NATO's changing role, the Middle East peace process, the West's
relations with Russia and the fight against terrorism.
Merkel opened the
conference by telling the delegates that one of the major threats facing the
world today is global warming, urging a combined effort to combat it.
"Global warming is one of the major medium- to long-term threats that
could have a dramatic effect," she said.
"This threat is a global threat:
It affects everyone, no one can escape, and it is one we can only tackle
together," Merkel said.
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