US Pentagon chief says in favour of placing missiles in Asia

Elias Hubbard
August 3, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. would terminate adherence to the 1987 arms control accord, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), senior administration officials told reporters. The announcement of the treaty's impending dissolution in February triggered some fears of an arms race that were re-upped on Friday.

"The denunciation of the INF treaty confirms that the U.S. has embarked on destroying all worldwide agreements that do not suit them for one reason or another", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the claim, saying it was a ploy by the exit the pact so it could develop new missiles.

"Throughout the process, they lied about the existence of the missiles at both the expert level and, finally when confronted with the evidence, came clean for this in the past several months", the official said. "So that should not surprise that we would want to have a like capability", he said.

"Now that the treaty is over, we will see the development and deployment of new weapons", Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian military analyst, told AFP news agency.

"On the famous symbolic clock that shows the time left until nuclear conflict, we have unfortunately passed yet another minute towards midnight", Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an English-language interview with RT. "Russia is exclusively responsible for the treaty's demise", he added.

New START imposes limits on the number of USA and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.

"Russia today remains in violation of the INF treaty, despite years of US and Allied engagement, including a final opportunity over six months to honor its treaty obligations", a statement from the North Atlantic Council, NATO's top policy body, said Friday.

Russian Federation has also rejected a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile, the Novator 9M729, which is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Russian Federation is within the effective range of these weapons, while the United States is not. He added that "even though President Trump is saying that there is no point in an arms race and investment in military equipment, this will continue".

"With the full support of our NATO Allies, the United States has determined Russian Federation to be in material breach of the treaty, and has subsequently suspended our obligations under the treaty".

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday that "Europe is losing part of its security" but sought to alleviate fears on Friday, telling German radio that the end of the treaty did not imply a renewed global armament race and that Europe would not take part in such a process.

Esper said China should not be surprised by the USA plans.

The Trump administration thinks talks about extending New START are premature.

In addition to China, the talks and much of Esper's trip, are likely to be dominated by discussion on what the departure of the United States from the INF treaty means for Asia and recent missile tests by North Korea.

"It is possible that by October when defence ministers meet again, the first elements of what North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can do will be presented", Didier Audenaert, Senior Associate Fellow at the Egmont Institute told EURACTIV, "but I would not expect there to be a nuclear option".

The treaty bans either side from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe. Any such deployment would be years away, they said.

The U.S. says that Russian Federation was in violation of the treaty by deploying "multiple battalions" of a cruise missile throughout the country, including in western Russian Federation, which gives the country the ability to strike European targets.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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