US missile test could revive arms race
On Sunday, the US tested a non-nuclear ground-based missile, which was banned by the 1987 INF Treaty. The treaty, which banned missiles with a range of 500 to 5500 kilometers, ceased to operate on August 2. As The Guardian writes in the article Russia and China say US missile test could revive arms race, Beijing urges US to ‘let go of cold war mentality’ after it fires nuclear-capable weapon
Washington said the agreement also tied its hands in dealing with other powers such as China. “The US has obviously taken a course towards escalation of military tensions. We won’t react to provocations,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told the state news agency Tass. “We will not allow ourselves to get drawn into a costly arms race.” Ryabkov said the test showed Washington had been working on such missiles long before its official withdrawal from the deal.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said: “This measure from the US will trigger a new round of an arms race, leading to an escalation of military confrontation.” He said the test would have a “serious negative impact” on the international and regional security situation. The US should “let go of its cold war mentality” and “do more things that are conducive to … international and regional peace and tranquillity”, Geng added. The missile was launched from the US-Navy-controlled San Nicolas Island off the coast of California.
“If the United States produces such offensive systems, we will also do so,” the Russian president said at a press conference before a meeting with the French leader, Emmanuel Macron.
This month the defense secretary, Mark Esper, said the US had begun work to develop mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems. “Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions,” he said. Esper confirmed the US was not embarking on a new arms race. “The traditional sense of an arms race has been in a nuclear context,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have plans to build nuclear-tipped INF-range weapons. It’s the Russians who have developed non-compliant likely, possibly, nuclear-tipped weapons.”
Yesterday, commenting on the US cruise missile test, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “This launch was prepared long before August 2, when the legal obligations of the parties formally expired on the INF Treaty. All this was known from last October, when US National Security Adviser John Bolton, visited us. He said that US President Donald Trump's words about the need to withdraw from this treaty were not an invitation to dialogue, but a final decision. Apparently, already then, and maybe even before, they began to prepare tests that violate the INF".