US Weapons Buildup Threatens Nuclear Arms Reductions
November 25, 2011
David M. Herszenhorn / New York Times
The US plans to place 24 interceptor missiles in Romania and a sophisticated radar system in Turkey. Russia believes the system could be used against its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has demanded written assurance from Washington that this would not be the case. The US has said it will not agree to any restrictions on its missile-defense plans. In response, Russia says it will deploy missiles and could withdraw from the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Russia Threatens Withdrawal from Nuclear Arms Pact
MOSCOW (November 24, 2011) -- Russia will deploy missiles and could withdraw from the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty if the United States moves forward with its plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday.
"I have set the task to the armed forces to develop measures for disabling missile-defense data and control systems," Medvedev said.
He said new Russian strategic ballistic missiles "will be equipped with advanced missile defense penetration systems and new highly effective warheads," and he reiterated Russia's warning that it would deploy tactical missiles to the western enclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland.
But it was Medvedev's comments about the New START treaty, put into effect this year, that suggested a darkening tone in what has been a drumbeat of warnings out of Moscow in recent days over the plans for a missile-defense system based in Europe.
"In the case of unfavorable development of the situation, Russia reserves the right to discontinue further steps in the field of disarmament and arms control," Medvedev said in a televised address from his residence outside Moscow. "Given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New START treaty could also arise."
Several times in his address, Medvedev reiterated his call for further Russian-US negotiations, but such talks seem unlikely to change the strongly held views on each side.
At issue is the Europe-based system being developed by the United States, which it says would defend against a potential missile attack by Iran. The United States has reached agreements to place 24 interceptor missiles in Romania, as well as a sophisticated radar system in Turkey.
Russia believes the system could be used against its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has demanded written assurance that this would not be the case. The United States has said it will not agree to any restrictions on its missile-defense plans.
Medvedev raised the issue with President Obama this month at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hawaii. After those face-to-face talks, Medvedev said, "Our positions remain far apart."
Since then, he and other Russian officials have made a steady stream of statements warning of the consequences of a failure by the two sides to reach some accommodation.
US officials insist that the Europe-based missile-defense system is intended to address a threat from Iran - a position that was reiterated by the White House and the Pentagon after Medvedev's televised remarks Wednesday.
"In multiple channels, we have explained to Russian officials that the missile-defense systems planned for deployment in Europe do not and cannot threaten Russia's strategic deterrent. Its implementation is going well, and we see no basis for threats to withdraw from it," said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
"We continue to believe that cooperation with Russia on missile defense can enhance the security of the United States, our allies in Europe, and Russia, and we will continue to work with Russia to define the parameters of possible cooperation."
In his remarks, Medvedev said there is still room for negotiation. But he accused the United States and NATO of being unwilling to consider Russia's point of view.
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