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Congress Pushes for Development of Nuclear Missiles Banned Under US/Russia Treaty


August 5, 2017
Sputnik News

The GOP is preparing several defense bills that would require the Pentagon to violate a 1987 Treaty with Russia that bans development of medium-range missiles. Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty -- which was designed to limit the missile potential of the two superpowers -- might lead to a buildup of missiles on both sides, with Europe and the rest of the world risking getting caught in the crossfire.

https://sputniknews.com/us/201708031056142530-congress-us-inf-missiles-violation/

Congress Pushes for Development of Missiles
Banned Under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Sputnik News

MOSCOW (August 3, 2017) – The Senate will debate the new version of the defense bill that would reportedly set aside $65 million and require the Pentagon to reintroduce missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300–3,400 miles).

The bill in the House of Representatives will point out that while the new missiles would be conventional, they, along with nuclear missiles, would still be considered banned under the nuclear disarmament agreement, according to Politico.

Advocates of the bill believe that the move would be a response to Russia's alleged violations of the bilateral accord.

Legal experts criticized the possible move, saying that Congress will exceed its power as it can only ratify the international treaties while talks on agreements and withdrawal from should be decided by the president.

The United States announced an initiative on revising the INF Treaty for the first time in February in order to stop alleged Russian violations of the agreement. The Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act was proposed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio and supported by Republican members of the House of Representatives Ted Poe and Mike Rogers, who introduced the bill to the lower chamber.

In June, Cotton presented a bill proposing that the alleged Russian violation of the INF Treaty be announced and that consideration be made for transferring missile technologies to US allies. The Democrats, meanwhile, proposed that further sanctions be considered. A similar document was proposed by Rogers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly expressed concern over the use of unsupported facts by the United States as a pretext for possible restrictive measures against Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly said that the Russian leadership had reaffirmed its commitment to the INF Treaty, and that Moscow has never violated the agreement. The minister pointed out that Washington had not provided any data that can be verified, adding that Russia had serious questions concerning US compliance with the INF Treaty.

The INF Treaty, signed in 1987, significantly reduced the arsenal of non-strategic missiles available to the United States and Russia by prohibiting all nuclear and conventional missiles and their launchers with range between 310 and 3,420 miles. The United States and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of violating the INF treaty.



US Potential Unilateral Withdrawal
From INF Treaty Puts Europe at Risk

Sputnik News

(June 29, 2017) -- On Saturday, Politico news outlet reported that the current US administration was under pressure from some members of the Republican Party to start developing new types of missiles that are banned under the INF Treaty, thus effectively terminating it.

The US House Armed Services Committee Chairman's mark summary on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act proposes the allocation of $50 million to counter Russia's alleged violations of the treaty, with half of this sum slated for the development of US intermediate range systems.

EUROPE AS POTENTIAL BATTLEGROUND
Political scientist Heinz Gaertner, who is a member of the Advisory Board of International Institute for Peace, told Sputnik that breaking from the nuclear disarmament treaty could create a situation reminiscent of the 1980s, at the time of the nuclear arms race between the USSR and the United States.

"If the US withdrew from the Treaty, it would give Russia a free path to deploy new ground based missiles. They could basically cover all Europe. The US itself would not be prohibited to deploy intermediate cruise missiles on European soil . . . Europe could become a potential nuclear battleground," Gaertner said.

According to Gaertner, Washington’s withdrawal will result in Russia boosting its conventional and missile capabilities to offset NATO’s strength.

"A new Treaty on conventional weapons would become from unlikely to impossible. The new START-Treaty would unravel since the difference between strategic and non-strategic missiles will be blurred," Gaertner added.

The INF Treaty, signed in 1987, significantly reduced the arsenal of non-strategic missiles available to the United States and Russia, by prohibiting all nuclear and conventional missiles and their launchers with range between 310 and 3,420 miles.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between Russia and the United States, signed in 2010 and significantly limiting the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers, expires in 2021. In February, US President Donald Trump called the treaty a "one-sided deal" in an interview to Reuters, suggesting it was not fair to the United States.

Francesco Calogero, Italian physicist and an active supporter of nuclear disarmament, sees the potential consequences of the break-up of the INF Treaty as a global disaster that would hit Europe as well as the two treaty signatories: Russia and the United States.

Tom Sauer, an associate professor at the University of Antwerp, also pointed out that the withdrawal by either the United States or Russia might result in "the build-up of more weapon systems in Europe, the US and Russia."

Sauer argued that the treaty issues are a symptom rather than the problem itself.

"To resolve the issue, the best would be to look at the root causes, which is finding a better political/geostrategic relationship between Russia and the West," Sauer said.

In his February 2017 article for the Global Policy Journal, the expert wrote that the West had failed to include Russia in a collective security architecture following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and suggested that remedying that is an urgent task.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
The best solution for the INF treaty would be to use the Special Verification Commission, which was suggested in the text of the agreement as a procedure for resolving compliance-related issues, Sauer said.

"Russia could show the Russian missile (SSC-8) to the Americans, and Americans could allow control on its missile defense system in Romania to the Russians," the expert suggested.

In February of this year, the US media reported, citing an official from US President Donald Trump’s administration, that Russia had covertly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile in breach of the INF Treaty. Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva reiterated the accusation in March.

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted the allegations, stressing that Russia was fully committed to the 1987 treaty and intended to keep up its commitment to all its international obligations.

"Moscow could offer better and improved verification measures to allay suspicions that Russia is violating the INF-Treaty," Gaertner said.

The initial verification procedure allowed as many as 20 annual short-notice inspections by each party for the first three years. The right to conduct inspections expired in 13 years since the signing of the agreement. At the moment, the Special Verification Commission is the main platform for discussing and solving compliance issues.

"The leaderships of the two participants (USA and Russia) should realize the disaster they are about to cause and step back from the brink, heeding the message just sent to them by 4 responsible statesmen: [former British defense secretary Des] Browne, [Chairman of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang] Ischinger, [former Russian Foreign Minister Igor] Ivanov, [former Democratic US senator Sam] Nunn," Calogero told Sputnik.

In an op-ed published in the Project Syndicate outlet in February, the four statesmen offered recommendations on reducing the nuclear threat. One such suggest[ion] was to begin discussions between the United States and Russia on eventually and significantly reducing the percentage of strategic nuclear forces from prompt-launch status. Another recommendation was the penning of a joint declaration by the two countries’ leaders on the futility of a nuclear war.

"Another constructive idea would be to negotiate a multilateral treaty with respect to medium-range missiles: open up this bilateral treaty to other states in the world; that would fit the global disarmament agenda," Sauer added.

According to Gaertner, Washington should back Russia in turning the Treaty into a multilateral agreement to alleviate Moscow’s fears of "intermediate range missiles from Asia."

Calogero also spoke in favor of a multilateral treaty rather than a bilateral one, explaining that "otherwise there will always be strong pressure within the USA and within Russia emphasizing the fact that only these two countries are bound by the INF Treaty."

A number of other countries with considerable arsenals could become a party to such an agreement. US Pacific Command (PACOM) head Adm. Harry Harris suggested in April that Washington should look into renegotiating the treaty, adding that certain aspects of the treaty that prevented the United States from being able to effectively counter China and other countries were "problematic."

Sauer pointed out that arms control could serve as a means to improve relations in general, but someone would have to take the first step.

"The US could for instance unilaterally withdraw the US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe as a result of the NW Ban treaty, something states like Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (and even Italy and Turkey) would agree with. It would then be up to Russia to reciprocate positively by withdrawing the Russian tactical nuclear weapons further east (to the Urals or further)," Sauer suggested.

An even better solution, according to him, would be to conclude a bilateral treaty on tactical nuclear weapons.

Calogero suggested that the INF treaty was "one of several fundamental subjects on which the strategic interests of the USA and Russia coincide," adding that "reasonable responsible leaders should take due note of these facts and work consequently towards cooperation rather than confrontation."

Sauer also proposed that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could use their possible meeting on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, slated for July 7-8, to mend the relationship between Moscow and Washington, on the issue of arms control, among others.

A senior Russian Foreign Ministry nonproliferation department official said earlier in the day that US exit from from the treaty would threaten the entire nuclear arms control regime.

Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (DNAC) Deputy Director Vladimir Leontiev said that Russia could not rule out the possibility of Washington unilaterally pulling out of the agreement. Leontiev added that Moscow would welcome a conversation with the United States on strategic balance.


Killing INF Treaty to Unleash
New Nuclear Arms Race - Ex-Pentagon Official

Sputnik News

WASHINGTON (June 27, 2017) -- The United States will open the flood gates to a new wave of spending on strategic nuclear weapon systems if the White House withdraws from the venerable Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, former US Defense Department senior analyst Chuck Spinney told Sputnik.

On Monday, Politico reported that US lawmakers sent a proposal to the White House urging the administration to withdraw from the INF arms control treaty that was negotiated by President Ronald Reagan and President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

"Essentially, this lunacy opens the door for a Pershing II follow on and possibly a new Ground Launched Cruise Missile," Spinney said. "Trashing the intermediate range nuclear treaty opens the money spigot for the only weapons not now included in the across the board nuclear modernization program."

Successive US administrations and congresses were sleep-walking into a new and avoidable nuclear arms race with Russia, Spinney cautioned.

A new generation of intermediate-range nuclear missiles could be based in Eastern Europe or Taiwan, South Korea and other countries, Spinney observed.

Scrapping the INF treaty would reopen the way for the US Army to rearm and re-equip its forces with shorter-range nuclear-armed missiles and launch a new weapons spending spree, Spinney predicted.

"A very attractive piece of such a program is that it would give the Army a piece of the offensive nuclear action. Currently offensive nuclear weapons are monopolized by Navy [and] Air Force and that weakens the Army leverage in the Pentagon budget battlefield," he said.

For the US armed forces, power came out of the size of the financial appropriations they could control that had bene approved by Congress, Spinney explained.

The United States and the American people would not be made safer by abandoning the INF Treaty but the powerful military-industrial lobby within the country looked likely to have its way in scrapping the 30-year-old agreement, Spinney acknowledged.

Spinney added that this insane approach provides yet another example of how domestic policies "trump a rational foreign policy."

The Politico report acknowledged that officials within the US Departments of State and Defense and on the National Security Council recognized the value of the United States remaining within the INF.

The 1987 treaty prohibits the development, deployment or testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. Russia is party to the INF treaty, as the Soviet Union's successor state. The treaty was implemented in 1991, with inspections continuing until 2001.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has repeatedly said that Moscow was in full compliance with the INF treaty. According to Lavrov, Moscow had its own concerns over Washington's compliance with the INF Treaty and that the Russian side had repeatedly called on US partners to substantially discuss the most controversial points related to the agreement's implementation.

In February, US media reported that Russia had deployed nuclear cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty. In March, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva said in a congressional testimony that the United States aims to "look for leverage points" seeking Russia's compliance with the treaty.


US Congress Urges Washington
To Withdraw From INF Treaty

Sputnik News

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2017) -- According to Politico, the Trump administration is engaged in fierce debate over this issue.

"[It is] irresponsible for us to continue to adhere to a treaty when the only other participant has long moved on from it," Republican Mike Rogers, the chairman of a key oversight panel on nuclear weapons, told Politico in a comment published on Saturday.

In February, Senator Tom Cotton proposed a new legislation, which enables to transfer INF-range missile systems to allies in response to Russia’s alleged violations of the INF Treaty.

"Declaring Russia in material breach of the treaty is an option the President should absolutely consider," a spokesperson for Cotton told the media outlet.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987. Russia is a party to the treaty as the Soviet Union's successor state. Within the framework of the deal, the two sides agreed to destroy and not to further develop ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that have a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (310-3,410 miles).

Since then, both Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of violations of the bilateral agreement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has repeatedly said that Moscow was in full compliance with the INF treaty. According to Lavrov, Moscow had its own concerns over Washington's compliance with the INF Treaty and that the Russian side had repeatedly called on US partners to substantially discuss the most controversial points related to the agreement's implementation.

In February, US media reported that Russia had deployed nuclear cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty. In March, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva said in a congressional testimony that the United States aims to "look for leverage points" seeking Russia's compliance with the treaty.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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