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US Threatens Nuclear Escalation: US Atomic Missiles to Return to UK?


June 9, 2015
Christopher Hope / The Telegraph & RT News

Nuclear missiles could be sited again on British soil in new 'Cold War' with Russia Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says there are 'worrying signs' about the increased activity of Russian forces and the UK would consider the pros and cons of taking US intermediate-range weapons.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11657690/Nuclear-missiles-could-be-sited-again-on-British-soil-in-new-Cold-War-with-Russia.html

Nuclear Missiles Could Be Sited Again o British Soil in New Cold War with Russia
Christopher Hope / The Telegraph

(June 7, 2015) -- The UK could site American new nuclear missiles on British soil amid heightened tensions with Russia, Philip Hammond has indicated.

The comments raise the prospect of a return to a Cold War-type arms race with Russia over the use of nuclear missiles

The Foreign Secretary said there were "worrying signs" about the increased activity of Russian forces and the UK would consider the pros and cons of taking US intermediate-range weapons.

Mr Hammond said there was "no clear sign" of an imminent attack on Ukraine but Vladimir Putin is "keeping his options open".

But he warned against making "unnecessary provocations" against Russia, which has a "sense of being surrounded and under attack".

Mr Hammond told BBC1's Andrew Marr programme that Mr Putin "has not ruled out a military option".

He said: "As we go into the G7 meeting and then to the European Council later this month renewing sanctions, we have got to send very clear signals to the Russians that we will not tolerate any breach of their obligations under Minsk."

The UK is thought to retain a stockpile of around 225 thermonuclear warheads, of which 160 are operational, but has refused to declare the exact size of its arsenal.

Since 1998, the submarine based Trident programme has been the only operational nuclear weapons system in British service.

The Pentagon is reportedly considering axing a Cold War-era treaty and deploying nuclear-capable missiles in Europe in response to Russia's breaches of international law.

Asked if he would back plans to re-introduce US missiles to Europe, Mr Hammond said: "I would need to see the detailed case for that. I haven't seen a detailed case for it.

"I think it is right to be concerned about the way the Russians are developing what they call asymmetric warfare doctrine."



Pressed on whether that would be a way to send a message to the Russian president, he replied: "It could be, but I think we have got a very delicate act to perform here.

"We have got to send a clear signal to Russia that we will not allow them to transgress our red lines.

"At the same time, we have to recognise that the Russians do have a sense of being surrounded and under attack and we don't want to make unnecessary provocations."

Asked if American missiles could be based in Britain, he said: "We would look at the case. We work extremely closely with the Americans.

"That would be a decision that we would make together if that proposition was on the table. We would look at all the pros and the cons and come to a conclusion."

He added: "There have been some worrying signs of stepping up levels of activity both by Russian forces and by Russian-controlled separatist forces."



Moscow 'Closely Looks' into Reported
US Plans to Return Medium-range Missiles to Europe

RT News

(June 5, 2015) -- The Pentagon is considering scrapping a Cold War-era treaty and deploying nuclear-capable intermediate-range cruise missiles in Europe over Moscow's alleged treaty violations, AP reported. The Kremlin says it is looking closely into the report.

The US administration is mulling deploying medium-range missiles in Europe and Asia that would be potentially capable of destroying military targets within Russian territory, the Associated Press reports. The news agency is citing an unclassified portion of a report written by the office of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The report names four potential weapons that "could assist in closing ... a capability gap" in case the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which prohibits the possession of 500-5,500 kilometer medium range missiles by the US and Russia, is scrapped.

Such measures could imply the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles systems in Europe or Asia, as well as the deployment of ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missiles equipped with warheads with adjustable trajectory.

Moscow will carefully analyze media reports about the Pentagon's possible missile deployments in Europe before gauging the news, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The news recalls to memory the worst pages of the Cold War, when in the 1980s the US deployed Pershing-2 ballistic missiles to Europe and the Soviet Union countered by deploying SS-20 Pioneer ballistic missiles, AP reports.

The Obama administration has been accusing Moscow of violating the INF treaty, alleging that a newly developed cruise missile violates the INF treaty.

The accusations were first voiced last summer, when President Barack Obama sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which Russia was accused of testing a surface-to-surface cruise missile with an excessive range, violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

The accusations were first voiced last summer, when President Barack Obama sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which Russia was accused of testing a surface-to-surface cruise missile with an excessive range, violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles.

US claims and allegations, including the accusation that Russia violated the INF nuclear weapons treaty, are part of an anti-Russian campaign launched amid the Ukraine crisis, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told RT last August.

"A massive wave of US claims and allegations is part of the anti-Russian campaign unleashed by Washington in connection with the Ukraine crisis. And the US is ready to exploit any means to discredit Russia," Antonov said.

US claims and allegations, including the accusation that Russia violated the INF nuclear weapons treaty, are part of an anti-Russian campaign launched amid the Ukraine crisis, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told RT last August.

"A massive wave of US claims and allegations is part of the anti-Russian campaign unleashed by Washington in connection with the Ukraine crisis. And the US is ready to exploit any means to discredit Russia," Antonov said.

The first to speak out about potential redeployment of the US ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe was another Pentagon official, Brian McKeon, who shared his opinion in December 2014, saying that the primary aim is to make sure that "Russia gains no significant military advantage from its violation."

Moscow warned that possible redeployment of US nuclear cruise missiles to Europe and other military steps mentioned by a US official over Russia's alleged violation of a crucial arms control treaty won't add to US security, but will increase tension.

Half a year later, Washington's wording has not changed much.

"All the options under consideration are designed to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from their violation," said Pentagon's spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, as cited by the AP.

So far Washington has not brought in any proof that medium-range ground-based missile has actually been deployed.

Meanwhile, Moscow is accusing Washington of violating the treaty by deploying its anti-missile shield in Europe. In particular, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia has repeatedly raised concerns over US short-range missiles being used for target practice, drones and the MK-41 Vertical Launching Systems which the US is planning to deploy in Poland and Romania.

"The Americans started this process in 2001, by unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty. Now it is aggravated by a rapid and unlimited build-up of the US global missile defense system, an unwillingness to clean up the territory of other states from the US tactical nuclear arsenal deployed there, elaboration of a provocative strategy of Prompt Global Strike, and an excessive build-up of conventional weapons, including their offensive components," it said.

S Defense Secretary Ashley Carter said that he has plans to discuss regional nuclear force issues with American defense and diplomatic officials in Germany on Friday.

In April, Carter's nuclear policy aide Robert Scher specified that putting up a "counterforce" to the missile allegedly violating the INF treaty effectively means that the US "could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia."

Scher also mentioned that "simply attacking" the alleged Russian missile is not enough, but should actually include consideration of "what things we can hold at risk within Russia itself."

The State Department's top arms control official, Rose Gottemoeller, at the same time argued against declaring the INF treaty dead. While calling the alleged Russian violations a "very grave concern," Gottemoeller stressed that America's allies in Europe are opposed to that approach.


US Accuses Russia of Nuke Treaty Breach . . . But Has It?
RT News

(July 31, 2014) -- The US accuses Moscow of violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts ponder if Washington is nudging Moscow to pull out of a treaty to create a new ‘nuke bogey' while extending protection to the EU.

Washington says Russia has tested a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile thus breaching the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, banning all ground-based nuclear-capable missiles with range from 500 to 5,500km, the New York Times cited.

But has Russia really violated the letter of the INF Treaty?

The situation in the world has greatly changed over the years since the INF Treaty was signed.

By May 1991, the INF Treaty was fulfilled. The USSR eliminated 1,752 missiles of five types, some of them fired unarmed at special test grounds, with infrastructure and production lines also destroyed.

The US deactivated a total of 859 of three kinds of Pershing missiles, but kept the launch platforms, transforming the missiles into targets for future ABM tests - and still use them.

Today Moscow and Washington remain the world's only capitals that imposed restrictions on themselves in the regard of short- and medium-range missile possession. Meanwhile, Russia has several nuclear states in imminent proximity to its borders that already have such medium-range missiles (China, India, Pakistan and probably Iran and North Korea) that can potentially strike Russian territory. The US has no such neighbors.

An expert of the Institute of International Security Problems, Valery Fenenko told RIA Novosti that the INF Treaty does not prohibit development of short and medium range missiles so both Russia and the US never stopped research in this area. Yet while Russia is doing the job all alone, the US has a helping hand of NATO allies.

"Americans are in a much easier situation in this regard. They have allies France and the UK that haven't signed the INF Treaty. These countries have cruise missile projects of their own that could be easily be transformed into surface-to-surface missiles," Fenenko said.

Russia could try to impose a moratorium on the Treaty until France and UK sign the document, "but there is no chance they would sign, so that would be the end of the treaty," Fenenko concluded.

Though no Western media outlet has mentioned the name of the missile, there are probably only two candidates for the role of the "peace breaker."

The first is Russia's cutting edge ICBM RS-26 Rubezh (Frontier) complex dubbed 'ABM-killer', reportedly made on the basis of ICBM RS-24 Yars land-based mobile missile system. According to a top military official, it was tested several times at short distances of about 2,000km, RBC Daily reports.

However, Rubezh is technically beyond suspicion, according to member of the Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Arbatov, as under the treaty the ballistic missile's range is estimated as the maximum range it was tested at, which is a respectable 5,700km for RS-26 Rubezh.

The second candidate is the R-500, a cruise missile which can be used with ground-based 9K720 Iskander launcher. Its range is a delicate issue, said Arbatov as cited by RBC Daily. Though it has an officially announced range below 500km, its exact characteristics remain top-secret and could be argued.

According to military experts, the R-500 is a modification of the old Soviet 3M10 Granat with an estimated range of 2,600km that was initially designed for submarine launch. All land-based Granat missiles were destroyed under the INP Treaty. However, the treaty did not apply to naval missiles.

The US has previously complained about suspected Russian treaty violations, presumably about the R-500 and its land-based tests that reportedly had to be conducted due to lack of funding. Moscow's explanations did not satisfy Washington, noted Arbatov, adding that such decisions and arguments are usually discussed during the meeting of working groups – while now the issue has reached the presidential level.

At the same time, the Russian Air Force possesses a unique X-101 strategic cruise missile – which could potentially be adopted for surface launch – with some reports indicating its maximum range to be well over 5,500km. In that case this missile would not fall under conditions of the INF Treaty either - if adapted for ground launch from the Iskander complex.

Timing Is Everything?
The New York Times broke to the world on Monday that President Barack Obama sent a letter to Vladimir Putin, in which Russia is accused of testing a surface-to-surface cruise missile with an excessive range.

The first tests of those missiles were conducted back in 2008, the report suggests, and it took the Obama administration three years to conclude that they were a compliance concern. But the question of possible treaty violation was raised by the State Department's arms control officials only in 2013.

When reports of Russia's ground-based tests re-emerged in January 2014, the US administration wasn't ready to comment on the issue or draw any conclusions and media attention to the issue at that particular time.

The US is obviously trying to force Russia out of the INF Treaty to have a pretext for further augmentation of its military presence in Europe, Fenenko shared with RIA Novosti.

"A lukewarm conflict between Russia and the US has been drawing on since 2007. In my opinion, Americans are pushing Russia to step out of the treaty," Fenenko said.

He believes that the accusations of the INF Treaty violation is a part of American strategy of spreading its anti-ballistic missile defense shield in Europe.

"Some American and Russian analysts expected Russia to respond to the imposed sanctions with threatening rhetoric towards the EU, and an obvious and harsh step of quitting the INF Treaty but that never happened," explained Fenenko, adding that now Washington wants to fulfill the aim in a different manner.

"If Russia re-deploys medium and short range missiles that would be a direct threat to EU member states, both Eastern and Western European countries," he concluded.

Washington uses the alleged INF Treaty violation to boost global tensions in the background of the Ukrainian crisis and sanctions imposed on Russia, Andrey Koshkin told RT, military political analyst at Plekhanov Academy in Moscow.

"This is interconnected with the crisis situation being created by the Americans themselves," estimated Koshkin, adding that Washington is launching a political assault on Moscow from every direction "to hype up the tensions."

"They try to blame Russia every morning, every evening, every night – this is a salvo of accusations. They try to get [the] Western public accustomed to blaming Russia," Willy Wimmer, the former State Secretary of the German Ministry of Defense, told RT.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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