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Russia Must Immediately Resolve INF Treaty Noncompliance Issue
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For Immediate Release: February 14, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 105

(Washington, DC)—The New York Times report based on U.S. government sources that Russia has allegedly deployed an operational unit of ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) that violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is extremely troubling and requires the immediate attention of senior policymakers in Moscow and Washington.

According to the report, Russia has not only tested noncompliant systems but has apparently deployed INF Treaty noncompliant missiles, a breach of a key cornerstone of the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control architecture that helped to halt and reverse the Cold War-era nuclear arms race and remove a significant threat to Europe.

General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signing the INF Treaty in Washington, DC, December 8, 1987 (Photo:Wikimedia)The INF Treaty required the United States and the then-Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

We call on Russia to immediately decommission the noncompliant missiles systems and return to compliance with the INF Treaty.

We also urge President Donald Trump and administration officials to reiterate U.S. support for the agreement and convene another meeting of the treaty's Special Verification Commission (SVC) to address and resolve the compliance issues.

The SVC was convened in November 2016 at the request of the United States for the purpose of addressing U.S. charges that Russia had conducted several tests of the INF Treaty prohibited system.

We also call upon the administration to seek new ways to provide further details about the nature of the Russian violation, particularly to U.S. allies threatened by the missiles. The inability to share more information has made it easier for Russia to deny a violation exists and harder for U.S. allies and other countries to put additional pressure on Russia.

Retaliating to Russia's violation by withdrawing from the INF Treaty, or stopping U.S. implementation of the successful 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), would be counterproductive and self-defeating.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders, as well as U.S. military officials, continue to assess that New START remains squarely in the U.S. national interest and that terminating or withdrawing from the agreement would undermine U.S. security.

Without continued U.S. support for existing nuclear arms control agreements and other types of cooperative nonproliferation engagement, Russian forces would be unconstrained. Not only would the United States have little leverage or basis to constrain Russian forces other than military and economic measures, it would not have verification measures in place to assess what Russia is doing.

The United States should pursue firm but measured steps to reaffirm its commitment to the defense of those allies that would be the potential targets of these new INF Treaty noncompliant missiles.

But it would not be militarily useful for the United States to deploy new offense missiles in Europe or seek to accelerate or expand U.S. ballistic missile defense capabilities in Europe, which would not increase the security of our allies and would only give the Russians a cynical excuse to withdraw from the treaty.

RESOURCES:
1) The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance (February 2017)
2) U.S., Russia Discuss INF Disputes (Arms Control Today, December 2016)

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Posted: February 14, 2017