18 July 2017
A Republican senator has proposed a way around the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between Russia and the US by urging Washington to provide its allies with the technology and assistance to build the very missiles banned by the accord.
The INF Treaty, signed by Soviet Union and the US 1987, bans the testing, production and possession of land-based intermediate-range missiles by both Moscow and Washington.
It enabled the scrapping hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles deployed in Europe amid the Cold War arms race. The missiles needed so little time to fly in case of an attack, that both sides had virtually no time to react to a launch warning, posing a grave threat of launching a nuclear war by mistake.
However, Senator Tom Cotton, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the US should skirt around the accord during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
He urged the White House to “facilitate the transfer of cruise missile technology to our (American) allies,” explaining that “only the US and Russia have signed this treaty. No other country did.”
“So, even if we can’t build intermediate-range missiles – that doesn’t mean our allies can’t. And also it doesn’t mean that we can’t help them,” he added.
The Senator said he wasn’t bothered by the fact that the move would undermine the spirit and intention of the INF treaty, when questioned by RT’s Jacqeline Vouga.
“Well, Vladimir Putin is violating the letter of it (INF). So, if someone is accusing the US of violating the spirit of it, I’m not terribly concerned about it,” he replied casually.
Cotton accused Russia of non-compliance with INF treaty, saying his proposal is aimed at making Moscow play by the rules.
“Should they not do that than, obviously, we shouldn’t remain in a treaty where we become literally the only country on earth that refrains from building a particular kind of weapons system," he said.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing American nuclear posture, with the issue of staying or leaving the INF also on the agenda.
In February, the US accused Russia of deploying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range exiting the declared figure and banned under the treaty. Russia denied the accusation.
Moscow has its own list of complaints over US shortcomings on fulfilling the INF Treaty. For starters, Moscow says the US drone program technically violates it and that target missiles used by the US to test ABM technology have a range banned by the INF and can be potentially weaponized.
Russia is also concerned by the placement of naval vertical launch systems
as part of the AEGIS Ashore deployment in Eastern Europe. The launchers are
the same as those used by US warships to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles,
leading Russia to deduce that the antimissile sites can be used to fire such
missiles and thus violate the INF.