US to test new weapon as US-Russia arms control treaty dies

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By Associated Press

The United States plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under a landmark, 32-year-old arms control treaty that the US and Russia ripped up on Friday.

Washington and Moscow walked out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed in 1987, raising fears of a new arms race. The US blamed Moscow for the death of the treaty. It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the United States and its allies, particularly in Europe.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement released on Friday.

But the US also sees an upside to exiting the treaty. Washington has complained for years that the arms control playing field was unfair. US officials argued that not only was Russia violating the treaty and developing prohibited weapons, but that China also was making similar non-compliant weapons, leaving the US alone in complying with the aging arms control pact.

Now, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned. The US is planning a test flight of such a weapon in coming weeks, according to a senior administration official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the weapons development and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The current Pentagon budget includes $48 million for research on potential military responses to the Russian violations of the INF treaty, but the options do not include a nuclear missile.

The official downplayed the test and said it was not meant as a provocation against Russia. Because the United States adhered to the treaty for 32 years, the United States is “years away” from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the agreement, the official said Thursday.

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.

Now, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned. The US is planning a test flight of such a weapon in coming weeks, according to a senior administration official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the weapons development and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The current Pentagon budget includes $48 million for research on potential military responses to the Russian violations of the INF treaty, but the options do not include a nuclear missile.

The official downplayed the test and said it was not meant as a provocation against Russia. Because the United States adhered to the treaty for 32 years, the United States is “years away” from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the agreement, the official said Thursday.

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.

Now, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned. The US is planning a test flight of such a weapon in coming weeks, according to a senior administration official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the weapons development and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The current Pentagon budget includes $48 million for research on potential military responses to the Russian violations of the INF treaty, but the options do not include a nuclear missile.

The official downplayed the test and said it was not meant as a provocation against Russia. Because the United States adhered to the treaty for 32 years, the United States is “years away” from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the agreement, the official said Thursday.

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.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov urged the United States to observe a moratorium in using intermediate-range weapons.

“We invited the US and other NATO countries to assess the possibility of declaring the same moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range equipment as we have, the same moratorium Vladimir Putin declared, saying that Russia will refrain from deploying these systems when we acquire them unless the American equipment is deployed in certain regions,” he said in an interview with state news agency Tass.

European leaders are expected to react to Friday’s demise of the INF with disappointment and concern.

“With the end of the INF treaty, a bit of security in Europe is being lost,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said this week. “Now we call all the more on Russia and the US to preserve the New START treaty as a cornerstone of worldwide arms control.

“Nuclear powers such as China must also face up to their responsibility on arms control — they have more weight in the world than at the time of the Cold War.”

Over its lifetime, the 1987 INF treaty led to the elimination of 2,692 US and Soviet Union nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. Until its demise, the treaty banned land-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles).

Pompeo said the US first raised its concerns that Russia was violating the treaty in 2013 during the Obama administration. He said the US tried for six years to prod Russia back into compliance.

In February, Trump determined that Moscow was in material breach of the treaty and the US suspended its own obligations under the agreement. That started a six-month clock to get Russia back into compliance — time that ran out on Friday.

“As it has for many years, Russia chose to keep its non-compliant missile rather than going back into compliance with its treaty obligations,” Pompeo said. “The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia.”

 


Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website

Natalia Veselnitskaya
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