Russia, Germany condemn Trump arms treaty threat
Russia has threatened a renewed arms race after Donald Trump threatened to pull the US out of a 1980s nuclear weapons agreement while Germany has distanced itself from Washington.
Trump said he would end involvement in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev because he alleged Russia and Chinese were violating the deal.
White House national security officials last year said Russia had deployed a cruise missile in violation of the treaty and Barack Obama’s administration accused Russia of violating the pact by developing and testing a prohibited cruise missile.
The treaty, which banned ground-launched nuclear missiles with a range of around 5,000km, ended the buildup nuclear missiles in Europe.
Russia has repeatedly denied that it violated the treaty and accused Washington of not being in compliance.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said it was a dangerous step and if Washington “clumsily and crudely” withdrew from international treaties, “then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures, including involving military technology”.
He said a US withdrawal “will cause the most serious condemnation from all members of the international community who are committed to security and stability”.
While the UK backed Trump, Germany called his move “regrettable”.
Berlin’s foreign-affairs minister Heiko Maas said the INF Treaty was “an important pillar of our European security architecture” and Trump’s comment “raises difficult questions for us and Europe”.
Gorbachev, 87, said: “Is it really so hard to understand that dropping these agreements . . . shows a lack of wisdom? Getting rid of the treaty is a mistake. All the agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limitation of nuclear arms must be preserved to save life on Earth.”
The US says Moscow has breached the pact since 2014 by developing the 9M729 (pictured), a ground-launched cruise missile that threatens Nato with a range that allegedly exceeds the treaty limits.
“Russia has violated the agreement. We are not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons we’re not allowed to,” Trump said. “We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say, ‘Let’s really get smart and lets none of us develop those weapons’, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable.”
The INF Treaty has constrained Washington from deploying medium-range nuclear missiles as a deterrent to China, which has built its dominance in the Pacific and the South China Sea.
China is not a signatory to the agreement.
Russian missiles raise questions in Nato. Picture credit: Wikimedia