Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Russia Challenges NATO by Deploying New Missile,Violating Treaty

According to Administration officials who spoke anonymously to The New York Times,Russia has now deployed a new land-based intermediate range cruise missile in clear violation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.The INF Treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.US intelligence has known about Russian testing of such a weapon since 2008 and the Obama administration formally accused Moscow of violating the INF Treaty by testing the missile in 2014.*
Known as the SSC-8 by the Pentagon,the missiles are seen as a direct threat to Europe.Russia has two battalions of the SSC-8.One of them is based at the Russian missile test range at Kapustin Yar;while the other was moved from there in December to an undisclosed location in Russia.Each battalion consists of four missile launchers and more than four missiles,intelligence analysts believe.The short range nuclear-tipped ballistic missile Iskander-M uses a similar type of launcher,but is not itself in violation of a treaty.The Pentagon has drawn up options to respond to the SSC-8 with,such as beefing up European missile defences or developing new US air or sea-based cruise missiles.*
The INF Treaty bans US and Russian missiles that can travel 300-3400 miles.It also forbids the production of launchers for such missiles.*
According to former US Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates,appearing before Congress in 1985,Soviet deployment of cruise missiles provides them with new multidirectional capabilities against US targets.*
At a 1 December 2015 Congressional hearing,Brian P. McKeon,Principal Undersecretary of Defense for Policy,said that the Joint Staff assessment tells us that the deployment of such a system by the Russian Federation would increase the risk to our allies and be an indirect threat to the US...the Administration determined that we need to consider Russian actions with respect to the INF Treaty in the context of its overall aggressive and bellicose behaviour that flouts international legal norms and destabilises the European security order.Russia is not violating the INF Treaty in isolation from it overall aggressive behaviour.*
Speaking at the same 2015 hearing,Rose Gottemoeller,who was then Undersecretary of Arms Control and International Security,and is now Deputy Secretary General of NATO,saidwe have made it very clear that this is not a technicality,a one-off event,or a case of mistaken identity,but a serious violation of one of the most basic obligations under the INF Treaty.Russian officials have denied violating the Treaty and told us the issue was closed.We do not accept this response.*

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