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CFE Treaty Regime Remains Vital to Europe, Russia, and the United States

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2007
Press Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107 and Wade Boese, (202) 463-8270 x104

(Washington, D.C.): The nonpartisan Arms Control Association (ACA) is disappointed today that Russia followed through on its threat to suspend implementation of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. ACA calls on all other states-parties to continue adhering to the accord and for Russia to renew its participation as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, ACA urges all 30 CFE states-parties, including Russia, to take the necessary actions to bring into force a 1999 updated version of the treaty, which would help ensure that dividing lines do not again descend across Europe.

Negotiated near the Cold War’s end, the CFE Treaty capped the amount of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, and other heavy armaments that its states-parties could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. The agreement led to the destruction of more than 60,000 weapons and effectively eliminated the possibility of large-scale surprise attacks in Europe. It also established an extensive verification regime that fosters transparency and trust throughout Europe.

The 1999 Adapted CFE Treaty aims to extend and enhance this invaluable regime while updating some treaty limits and rules to account for the significant military and political changes that have occurred since the original treaty’s negotiation. All of the 1990 treaty states-parties must ratify the revised accord for it to take effect, but the United States and other NATO members are conditioning their approval on Russia fulfilling military withdrawal commitments from Georgia and Moldova.

Daryl G. Kimball, ACA executive director, recommended that “Russia must withdraw its residual forces from Georgia and Moldova, which are not vital to Russia’s security or security in those regions.” He suggested that Moscow seriously explore options to replace Russian personnel with international peacekeepers and use foreign assistance to help facilitate withdrawal activities.  

At the same time, Kimball urged NATO members to start their national ratification processes to demonstrate their commitment to the adapted treaty. Moreover, he called upon NATO countries to pursue future reductions in their permitted weapons limits, which in most cases far exceed actual arms holdings. Such a move, he said, could help ease Russian concerns about future NATO force buildups.

The Arms Control Association cosponsored a November international appeal to bolster the CFE Treaty regime. That appeal is at http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2007/20071204_CFE_Appeal.asp, and a current list of signers can be found at the websites of the two appeal cosponsors: the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.  

Additional information on the CFE Treaty and the Adapted CFE Treaty can be found at ACA’s CFE Treaty resource section at http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/ct/. In particular, an analysis of the Adapted CFE Treaty is available at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/1999_11/wbno99.asp.               

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