U.S. Open to Russia Nuclear Treaty and Warns Turkey on Arms
(Bloomberg) -- The top U.S. envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Washington was open to a broad treaty with Russia to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons while also warning Turkey not to purchase a new arms system from Moscow.
“Our government is firmly in the camp of looking for an opportunity to have an arms control agreement that would include all the countries that have these intermediate ballistic missiles,” U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said during a Tuesday call with reporters. “Now America is going forward with the treaty protocol to give notice that we need to begin to develop a defense to the violating missiles that Russia has been developing.”
The warning came after President Donald Trump said on Feb. 1 he would pull out of the landmark 1987 nuclear disarmament treaty, called the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing years of Russian violations. President Vladimir Putin a day later said Moscow would also abandon the accord, which restricts the deployment of missiles with a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) to 5,500 kilometers.
The U.S. doesn’t have immediate plans to deploy new missiles to Europe when the withdrawal takes effect in August, according to two administration officials involved in the deliberations who briefed reporters last week on condition of anonymity.
Russia won’t station any short and medium-sized missiles in Europe and other regions unless the U.S. does, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said.
Still, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Feb. 2 proposed developing weapons of this range, arguing that the U.S. is already producing such missiles.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is taking a measured approach, waiting to see if the accord can be salvaged.
“Our main focus now is to preserve the treaty and there is a window of opportunity for Russia to come back into compliance,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said before a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday. “At the same time we are planning for the future without the INF treaty and with more Russian missiles.”
Stoltenberg ruled out deploying new nuclear land-based weapon systems in Europe, but added their were other choices, including “conventional and other options.”
Hutchison also warned Turkey, a NATO member, against entering a proposed arms deal with Russia that has been straining relations within the alliance. Turkey finalized plans to buy the Russian systems, called the S-400, last year, with first delivery scheduled for October 2019.
“We are very concerned about any kind of Russian missile defense in one of our alliance countries,” Hutchison said. “The whole alliance is concerned about this and we hope that Turkey will make the right decision and look for another system.”
If Turkey does purchase Russian arms, it could put at risk the types of defenses other NATO allies could have in the country, affect the inter-operability of defense systems and violate security and intelligence among alliance members, Hutchison said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been adamant that Turkey would take the Russian missile system, saying traditional allies in the West failed to meet his country’s defensive needs.
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