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​Intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty: Setting the record straight

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

Published time: August 12, 2014 11:08
A Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from the MK-41 vertical launching system (Reuters)

The issue of the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has recently been thrust into the focus of international attention.

As is known, this treaty, formally titled the Treaty on Elimination of the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, is an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union signed in 1987. The treaty prohibits the nuclear and conventional ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers. By the treaty’s deadline of June 1991, a total of 2692 such weapons had been destroyed: 842 by the United States and 1846 by the Soviet Union.

The recently published report of the US State Department on “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” for 2013 accuses Russia of violating the INF Treaty. However, no specific allegations are made, and no evidence is presented. These accusations should be considered groundless. The report rather casts doubt on the compliance with the obligations on this treaty by the US.

The problems related to the INF are not new and well-known to both parties, and it is not a secret that the main problems with its implementation occurred many times because of the United States. In dialogue with US partners we have repeatedly raised our concerns, including on the usage by the US of target-missiles of missile defense with characteristics similar to those of intermediate-range missiles, armed drones evidently covered by the treaty definition of ground-launched cruise missiles, and the Mk-41 launch systems capable of launching intermediate-range cruise missiles that the US intend to deploy in Poland and Romania within the framework of the implementation of their "adaptive approach” to the deployment of a global missile defense. Their ground-launched version would be a serious violation of the INF Treaty.

However, Russia has not yet received any response from the US regarding these issues. I hope to see the US prepared to work jointly to increase the viability of the treaty. Russia, on its part, champions the idea to make the INF multilateral so as to include all the countries possessing the relevant technology.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.