Participants of the 4th Forum of Young Professionals in the Field of Nuclear Non-Proliferation discussed questions of Russian-American cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. Particularly relevant was the topic after Washington withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal, and US President Donald Trump announced his desire to terminate the Treaty on Medium and Small-Range Missiles (INF).
Students, young specialists and scientists in the field of nuclear non-proliferation from leading American universities (Stanford, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of Washington, Los Alamos National Laboratory) and from MEPhI were invited to the State Duma by a member of the United Russia Inga Yumasheva.
“Many experts and politicians are of the opinion that building a dialogue in the absence of trust is impossible. However, I believe that trust is not so much a prerequisite of interaction, but, on the contrary, its result. Trust appears in the process of communication, in the course of bilateral contacts and meetings, and is strengthened by constructive steps and decisions aimed at maintaining a dialogue,” said Yumasheva, answering a question from one of the participants of the meeting regarding possible ways to restore trust between Russia and the United States.
The deputy added that a dialogue is needed at the parliamentary level, at the level of public organizations, universities, research centers. “Today’s meeting is one of the examples of such a dialogue, and the more such meetings we have, the better mutual understanding we will achieve,” Yumasheva noted.
The head of the American delegation, Professor at Stanford University Siegfried S. Hecker, in turn, admitted that students from the United States appreciated the opportunity to visit the State Duma and discuss the most important problems of nuclear safety with Inga Yumasheva, with the leadership of the International Affairs Committee, the Committee on Education and Science.
“Russia and the United States are jointly responsible for cooperation in the prevention of a nuclear threat and the peaceful use of the benefits of nuclear energy. Our meeting with representatives of the State Duma helped us to understand more deeply the complexity of the existing problems. It was an important step towards building trust between the younger generation of our countries,” said Hecker.
And the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science, Vyacheslav Nikonov, believes that “the current situation in bilateral relations between Russia and the United States is even more complicated than it was during the cold war.” According to the deputy, then there were various forms of dialogue and there were no personal sanctions, now “many parliamentarians are on the blacklist.”
Nikonov is sure that the only way to build trust is a dialogue, which is now hard to carry out because of criticism and accusations against Russian politicians.
Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, expressed his view on the situation, stressing that more work is needed in the field of civil society to restore the level of trust between Russia and the United States. The parliamentarian touched upon the problems of relations between Moscow and Washington in the nuclear field.
“The withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty and today’s plans to withdraw from the DDRMD are two sides of the same problem. Leaving the INF, the United States concentrated on building missle defence bases to eliminate the threat from “axis of evil” countries. This is North Korea, and Iran, and so on. However, the elements of this new missile defense of the United States have consistently pulled up to the borders of Russia. Of course, we have always been against it,” said the deputy.
He hopes that the coming year will be decisive in terms of whether Russia and the United States will construct a peaceful architecture in the 21st century or will the world again be thrown into a new arms race as a result of Washington’s policies.
“In my opinion, another area where we can restore trust and relationships is a civil society. We must work more with young people, with funds, with universities,” he concluded.