NATO: Time running out to save Russia-US INF treaty

World Today

A nuclear arms treaty with Russia appears to be unraveling after negotiators in Brussels failed to reach a deal. At the heart of the dispute — a new Russian medium-range missile that has Washington threatening to resume the Cold War arms race.

CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi explains.

Time is running out — that was the warning by NATO’s Secretary General on Friday, as the grace period to comply with a 30-year-old nuclear treaty that prohibits Russia and the U.S. from developing mid-range nuclear warheads, looks close to elapsing.

“The reason why this treaty is now in jeopardy is the Russian violation,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “There are no new U.S. missiles in Europe, but there are many new Russian missiles in Europe, and that’s the reason why this treaty now is in danger, and Russia has violated the treaty over many years, and our concerns, the U.S. concerns and NATO concerns, about the new Russian missiles have been raised with Russia over several years.”

In February, the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the International Nuclear Forces Treaty over the Russian violations.  Washington gave Russia an August 2 deadline to comply before the withdrawal became official.  But on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Russian participation in the INF Treaty, raising the prospect that a new arms race could be on the way.

“When it comes to our part, we did everything we could to save the INF Treaty,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova said. “We offered Washington a package of concrete and practical measures, which could ease the sides’ concerns based on mutual transparency.”

The U.S. fears Russia may be developing missiles that could give them the ability to launch a nuclear strike on Europe without notice, an action that Russia denies.

Stoltenberg did not confirm if NATO officials are exploring whether to upgrade their defenses to make them capable of shooting down any newly deployed Russian mid-range missiles.  He simply said “NATO will not mirror what Russia does.”