EU feels concern about nuclear weapons
In a last-minute attempt to save a nuclear missile reduction treaty the European Union has appealed to Russia and the United States to rethink their respective repudiations of it. The imminent lapsing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has led to concerns at the possibility of a new arms race on European soil. Last week Russian general staff officer Maj Gen Andrei Sterlin claimed in parliament that the US may have accelerated preparations to place new medium- or intermediate-range missiles in Romania.
Irish Times reports in its article EU appeals to Russia and US to rethink disavowal of nuclear pact that Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg last month warned that the alliance was considering ways to bolster defences against the threat of Russian missile systems, the capabilities of which are disputed.
The 1987 treaty which regulates deployment of short-range missiles in Europe will lapse on August 2nd following successive repudiations of it, first by US president Donald Trump last October over deployment of Russian Novator 9M729 cruise missiles. The treaty prohibits all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500km
The US had for some time contested the missiles’ range.
Russia denies the weapons breach the treaty and President Vladimir Putin formally renounced it on July 3rd. Russia also insists that the US Aegis Ashore missile defence system, already deployed in Romania and Poland for use against potential Iranian and North Korean threats, could be used offensively by the US and is thus in breach of the treaty.
Speaking after a Nato defence ministers’ meeting, Stoltenberg underscored the threat posed by the 9M729: “These missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads,” he said. “They can reach European cities within minutes. They are hard to detect.”
Call for calm
Almost 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads were removed from European soil and verifiably destroyed under the INF terms. A statementfrom the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policy Federica Mogherini warned of the threat to the entire international non-proliferation system. “The European Union calls on all states to uphold the integrity of the rules-based international system with effective multilateralism as a key principle. This is indispensable for maintaining international peace and security. We are concerned that the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime is under great strain.”
Moreover, it warns: “Given the heightened tensions, we must be careful not to enter the path of a new arms race that would offset the significant reductions achieved after the end of the cold war. We encourage the United States and the Russian Federation to seek further reductions to their arsenals, including strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons.”
Ms Mogherini called for “early and active dialogue on the future of New Start [strategic arms reduction talks] post-2021, and on other arms control arrangements.”