October 4, 2018 – The U.S. ambassador to NATO has warned that the United States might “take out” Russian missiles that U.S. officials claim violate a landmark arms control treaty.
The US has threatened to respond to what it believes is Russia’s covert development of a new missile system capable of launching quick nuclear strikes against NATO countries.
Washington’s ambassador to Nato said the US remained committed to a diplomatic solution, but would “match its capabilities” if the 9M729 system becomes operational.
America believes Russia is developing the ground-launched missiles in breach of a Cold War treaty that could allow Moscow to launch a nuclear attack on Europe at short notice, but the Kremlin has consistently denied any such violation.
The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) bans an entire class of weapons – all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 500-5,500km. Nato says the Russian system fits into that category.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Oct. 4, that Russia’s violation of an arms control treaty was “untenable” and unless it changed course the United States would respond.
The United States believes Russia is developing a ground-launched system in breach of a Cold War treaty, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), that could allow Moscow to launch a nuclear strike on Europe at short notice. Russia has consistently denied any such violation.
“Russia must return to compliance with the INF treaty or the U.S. will need to respond to its cavalier disregard to the treaty’s specific limits,” Mattis told a news conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison announced that Washington was prepared to launch an attack on Russian military installations in response to the treaty violations.
The Ambassador comments might have been slightly ambiguous, but arms control experts have said they could be interpreted to mean a preemptive strike against Russian missiles, a move could lead to nuclear war.
Press TV reports: Washington claims Moscow is violating a Cold War treaty and developing a ground-launched cruise missile which could empower Russia to launch a nuclear strike on Europe at short notice. Russia has repeatedly denied any such violation.
“At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries,” US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said at a news conference on Tuesday in Brussels.
“Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty,” she added. “They are on notice.”
But Ms Hutchison later clarified in a tweet she was not talking about a preemptive strike against Russia.
“My point: Russia needs to return to INF Treaty compliance or we will need to match its capabilities to protect US and NATO interests. The current situation, with Russia in blatant violation, is untenable.”
The US accusations are likely to further strain relations between Moscow and the West that are at a low over Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea, its bombing campaign in Syria and accusations of meddling in Western elections.
“We have been trying to send a message to Russia for several years that we know they are violating the treaty; we have shown Russia the evidence that we have that they are violating the treaty,” Ms Hutchison said.
“We are laying down the markers so that our allies will help us bring Russia to the table,” she added.