US Defense Secretary says he favors placing intermediate-range missiles in Asia

Sunday, 04 Aug, 2019

Under the pact signed in 1987 by then USA president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Washington and Moscow agreed to limit the use of conventional and nuclear medium-range missiles (with a range of 500-5,000 kilometres, 300-3,000 miles).

"The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is...violated by Russia", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Both NATO and the US accused Russian Federation of violating the INF treaty that kept nuclear weapons out of Europe and avoided short-notice attacks.

On Feb. 2, the USA gave formal notice that it meant to leave the treaty in six months.

- The U.S. "realizes that they're destroying the entire worldwide security system because they want to build a new world order", said Konstantin Sokolov, a geopolitical expert at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

An unnamed U.S. official told the television news network that Washington aims to deploy the weapon in areas of Europe where it could overpower Russian air defense systems and strike "the country's ports, military bases or critical infrastructure". "I do believe that will happen", Trump told reporters.

"Russia bears sole responsibility for the demise of the treaty", the NATO allies said, adding that "NATO will respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile". "The INF treaty has been a cornerstone in arms control for decades, and now we see the demise of the treaty".

The treaty bans land-based missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km).

Stoltenberg said the Russian missiles - the 9M729, or by its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation designation the SSC-8 - were "mobile capable and hard to detect".

"So it should not surprise them [China] that we would want to have a like capability", he added. We don't intend to deploy new nuclear land-based systems in Europe.

The United States is set to accelerate its development of new cruise and ballistic missile systems following its withdrawal from a nuclear treaty with Russian Federation, the Pentagon said on Friday.

In response to the U.S. encirclement of China and the deployment of massive naval and air power in the Pacific region as part of the "pivot to Asia" begun under the Obama administration, Beijing, which is not a signatory of the INF treaty, developed its own medium range missiles.

But Washington's withdrawal means there's now only one arms control agreement left between the U.S. and Russian Federation. The senior official said there have been "regular conversations" with Russian Federation and China regarding trilateral arms control.

Now that the USA military is free to develop weapons that were previously banned, it is planning a test flight of a new missile in coming weeks, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

China has already rebuffed calls from the United States to join the New Start treaty.

Germany urged the United States and Russian Federation to preserve what is left of the worldwide arms control framework, a day before the INF treaty was set to run out. In February, Washington had given Moscow six months to destroy the 9M729 missile it has said violates the agreement.

"We are just at the stage of looking at how we might further the development of conventional options", one official said.

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. Arms control advocates still worry that America's exit from the INF treaty will lead the two nations to also scrap the larger New START treaty, which expires in early 2021.