Comment by the Information and Press Department on US allegations of the violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by Russia
We’ve taken note of statements made by high-ranking US State Department and Department of Defence representatives at Congressional hearings, who again allege that Russia has violated the provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), as well as – probably to add weight to their accusations – of several other arms control treaties, such as the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and the Treaty on Open Skies (TOS).
We regret that our American partners continue to engage in militaristic rhetoric and to push the INF issue to the plane of military and military-technical “response” measures, while not having provided any proof of their allegations. The US Administration doesn’t go to the trouble to provide facts, even not entirely valid ones. Its representatives only say that they have facts at their disposal, and everyone must believe them. They refuse to answer what facts these are, or who has established them, or if they can be checked. Congress, US allies and partners and the public are invited to accept as fact that Russia is allegedly producing and deploying ground-based intermediate-range missiles and launchers that are prohibited by the INF Treaty.
These allegations obviously aim to cast a shadow on Russia’s arms control policy and at the same time to draw public attention away from US actions, which misinterpret INF provisions when they hinder the creation of weapons Washington needs.
A point at issue is the Mark 41 vertical launch system for Aegis Ashore, the land-based component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System, which the US is deploying in Romania and plans to deploy in Poland. The MK-41 VLS is installed on surface ships for launching Standard-3 interceptors and Tomahawk intermediate-range cruise missiles. A Pentagon representative said at the hearings that the land-based MK-41 is not suited or designed to launch cruise missiles. We don’t consider this question to be settled, because only military and technical experts can determine if the above statement is true, while our American partners refuse to hold a practical discussion on this. Therefore, we consider it reasonable to view the ground-based MK-41 VLS as a cruise missile launcher, and its deployment on dry land as a direct violation of the INF Treaty.
We also have questions about the use of target missiles during US BMD tests with characteristics that are similar to those of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. The scale of the production of the target missiles and the nature of their testing do not correspond to the declared goals. The United States could be using the alleged BMD tests to streamline the production and combat use of intermediate- and shorter-range ballistic missiles that are prohibited by the INF Treaty. We must say that our American partners are reluctant to discuss this very serious issue with us. Moreover, the 2016 National Defence Authorisation Act directly prohibits the transfer of telemetry data from the target missiles to Russia, something we have not asked for. This precautionary measure is additional evidence reinforcing our conclusions.
Besides, the United States has produced unmanned combat air vehicles, which fall under the INF category of land-based cruise missiles, for years. When we ask how this complies with the IMF Treaty and accompanying documents, our American partners pretend not to understand our questions and resort to deliberations that are not directly connected with the INF Treaty terms and definitions.
We have repeatedly reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to the INF Treaty and urged our American colleagues to stop using megaphone diplomacy to discuss disputed issues related to implementation of the INF Treaty and to use bilateral expert dialogue, which, we believe, is better suited to address the arising issues. However, we see that the United States continues to use groundless accusations in order to refrain from discussing unpleasant issues.
It is especially alarming that all the ballyhoo raised by the United States over the INF Treaty is being used to justify a comprehensive response, which includes a range of long-term military programmes to modernise and increase the effectiveness of nuclear weapons, as well as US military build-up on Russia’s borders in Europe and Asia Pacific. The United States plans to implement these measures even if the INF problem is settled, as it has been announced at the Congressional hearings. The INF issue is being shamelessly used to create an atmosphere of never-ending military tension in the Euro-Atlantic region. It is only logical that we take note of these statements and draw appropriate conclusions from them.
As for the CFE Treaty, the United States is traditionally glossing over its role in undermining its viability and is hushing up Russia’s willingness to hold concrete consultations on a new CFE verification regime. We’d like to remind our partners that the ball is not in our court but in that of NATO. Presenting the situation differently amounts to avoiding the obvious truth.
December 2, 2015