Posts Tagged ‘Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’

‘Russia threat’ used as excuse to funnel trillions into military industry – Russian envoy to US

February 3, 2018

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Russia Today (FT)
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Washington uses the alleged Russian threat as a pretext for its nuclear build-up, while the real purpose behind the new hawkish nuclear strategy is to pump money into the military complex, the Russian ambassador to the US told RT.

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“The problem is that the Americans are again using Russia as a bogeyman to justify the rise in military spending and the nuclear buildup,” Anatoly Antonov said, responding to the newly released US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

The document, which calls for a reciprocal response to a conventional nuclear threat, classes Russia as a major challenge to the US along with China, North Korea and Iran. Justifying the need to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal, the review warns of Russia modernizing its nuclear weapons program and alleges that Moscow is ready to “use force to alter the map of Europe.”

“We realize this comes from their desire to inject more money into the military industry sector, we know the price tag is trillions of dollars,” Antonov said.

As part of its nuclear triad upgrade, Washington said it would modify its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) so as to be able to carry lower-yield warheads; with a plan to eventually switch to sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) to deter Russia. Such measures are needed to counter “Russia’s non-compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty [INF], its non-strategic nuclear arsenal, and its other destabilizing behaviors,” the review states.

Antonov dismissed US allegations that Moscow is in breach of its obligations under the 1987 INF treaty.

“I would like to state clearly that, as far as Russian obligations under any international treaties are concerned, we have been implementing them responsibly and accurately,” the ambassador said. He added that he would like a detailed discussion of the matter at the level of experts, and not through the media.

While the review states that the US does not want to see an “adversary” in Russia, the document repeatedly sounds alarm over Moscow’s actual and would-be nuclear capabilities. It alleges that the Russians are willing to use nuclear weapons first to “de-escalate a conflict on terms favorable to Russia.”

The Russian nuclear doctrine, however, states that the only scenario when it will deploy nukes is in retaliation to either a nuclear attack; the use of weapons of mass destruction; or conventional aggression on a scale which threatens the existence of the state.

America’s nuclear build-up was key point of Trump’s first State of the Union address earlier this week. To thunderous applause, he vowed to make the US nuclear arsenal “so strong and powerful” to deter any aggression.

Trump’s ambitious plan to “rebuild and modernize” the nuclear program might stumble due to the lack of resources, however, the former chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said. Frank Klotz, who retired from the agency last month, said in a recent interview the agency is already at a “full capacity,” working on life extension programs for nuclear warheads and will need additional funds to process new tasks.

It’s estimated that Trump’s nuclear-weapons upgrade would cost taxpayers some $1.2 trillion from 2017 until 2046, according to a US Congress Budget Office (CBO) report published in October.

https://www.rt.com/usa/417762-us-nuclear-buildup-russia-threat-excuse/

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‘Button’ It, Mr. President

January 5, 2018

JFK and Reagan had the good sense not to speak flippantly about nuclear weapons.

President Kennedy meets with U.S. Army officials during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
President Kennedy meets with U.S. Army officials during the Cuban Missile Crisis. PHOTO: © CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

From the Oval Office address by President John F. Kennedy informing Americans of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Oct. 22, 1962: “Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation which leads a world-wide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is required, and it is under way; and these actions may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of world-wide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth; but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.”

From his commencement address at American University, June 10, 1963: “What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children. Not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women; not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

“I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost 10 times the explosive force delivered by all of the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.”

From the address by President Ronald Reagan after the summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Oct. 13, 1986: “I told him I had pledged to the American people that I would not trade away SDI”—the Strategic Defense Initiative. “There was no way I could tell our people that their government would not protect them against nuclear destruction. I went to Reykjavik determined that everything was negotiable except two things: our freedom and our future. I am still optimistic that a way will be found. The door is open, and the opportunity to begin eliminating the nuclear threat is within reach.”

From Reagan’s remarks at the signing, with Mr. Gorbachev, of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, at the White House, Dec. 8, 1987: “The numbers alone demonstrate the value of this agreement. On the Soviet side, over 1,500 deployed warheads will be removed, and all ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, including the SS-20s, will be destroyed. On our side, our entire complement of Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles, with some 400 deployed warheads, will all be destroyed. Additional backup missiles on both sides will also be destroyed. But the importance of this treaty transcends numbers. We have listened to the wisdom in an old Russian maxim. And I’m sure you’re familiar with it, Mr. General Secretary, though my pronunciation may give you difficulty. The maxim is: Dovorey no provorey—trust, but verify.”

Mr. Gorbachev: “You repeat that at every meeting. [Laughter]”

Reagan: “I like it. [Laughter]”

This is how American presidents have always talked about nuclear weapons and the nuclear age—blunt, direct, factual and clear: We never want these weapons used again.

Until now. President Donald Trump’s tweet, 7:49 p.m., Jan. 2, 2018: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

We’re not going in the right direction, are we?

Here are the reasons Mr. Trump’s tweet is destructive and dangerous.

Because it is cavalier about a subject that could not be graver. Because the language and venue reflect an immature mind, the grammar and usage a cluttered and undisciplined one. By raising the possibility of nuclear exchange on social media, the president diminishes the taboo against nuclear use. Anything you can joke about on Twitter has lost its negative mystique. Destigmatizing the idea of nuclear use makes it more acceptable, more possible—more likely. Bragging about your arsenal makes it sound as if nuclear weapons are like other weapons, when they’re not.

Using a taunting public tone toward an adversary such as Mr. Kim, who may be mad, heightens the chance of nuclear miscalculation. The president’s tweet is an attempt to get under the skin of a sociopath. Is it a good idea to get under the skin of a sociopath who enjoys shooting missiles?

Blithe carelessness on an issue with such high stakes lowers world respect for American leadership. It undermines our standing as a serious and moral player, which is the only kind of player you would trust, and follow, in a crisis.

The sober and respected Sam Nunn represented Georgia as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from 1972 to 1997, and is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit trying to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction. “The danger of nuclear use is greater now than during the Cold War,” he said. The impact of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric? “It increases the risk of blunder.”

There are more nuclear nations, more independent actors, including terrorist groups. “Nuclear material is not fully secured, scientific knowledge of how to make a bomb is increased.” And there is the cyber threat—hacking into weapons systems, supplying false data. “Want a war between India and Pakistan?” Mr. Nunn says. “Simulate a missile attack.” Make it appear missiles are incoming when they’re not.

The risky world becomes riskier. “Add to that the heated rhetoric and name calling, and that increases risk and lays the foundation for a catastrophic blunder.”

You always fear miscalculation and misinterpretations, he says. But the chance of a blundering into disaster is probably greater than the chance of deliberate use.

Mr. Nunn notes we have been lucky that 73 years into the nuclear age there have been no accidental launches, no catastrophic decisions. The nuclear nations have been careful, professional, restrained. But yes, we’ve been lucky.

And should do nothing to press that luck.

Bragging about nuclear arms increases the likelihood of proliferation. “If we’re trying to get countries around the world not to go nuke, then we shouldn’t talk in a way that enhances their importance,” Mr. Nunn says. “There’s a lot of countries out there looking to take their small button and make it into a big button.”

By the way, Reagan’s INF Treaty, that turning point in the history of arms control, remains in force but could unravel due to charges of violations and bad faith. Keeping it up and operating will require work but be heartening for the world.

Focus there. And don’t tweet about it.

Pentagon Moves to Develop Banned Intermediate Missile

November 17, 2017

Washington is raising pressure on Russia, saying it is violating an arms control treaty

The U.S. is laying the groundwork to build a type of missile banned by a Cold War-era pact unless Russia abandons its own pursuit of the weapons, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. military’s preliminary research and development, previously undisclosed, is aimed at potentially reviving an arsenal of prohibited ground-based, intermediate-range missiles if Moscow continues violating the pact, the officials said.

American officials say they don’t want to end the Cold War-era accord, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF, but rather bring Russia back into compliance. Washington hopes to show Moscow the kinds of new American weapons Russia’s armed forces would face if they don’t stop violating the INF, U.S. officials say.

The U.S. told Russia of its research project in recent weeks, according to U.S. officials, but said was ready to abandon it if Russia returns to compliance, the officials said.

“The idea here is we need to send a message to the Russians that they will pay a military price for violation of this treaty,” one U.S. official said. “We are posturing ourselves to live in a post-INF world…if that is the world the Russians want.”

A Russian official said Thursday that the U.S., not Moscow, has been violating the treaty through its missile-defense installations in Europe. The U.S. denies that claim. The official added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a U.S. treaty withdrawal would bring an “immediate and reciprocal” Russian response.

In meetings in Brussels last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told allies that Washington was trying to use new leverage to push Moscow into compliance. He said Washington had no plans to abandon the INF.

“Our effort is to bring Russia back into compliance,” Mr. Mattis said last week. “It is not to walk away from the treaty.”

Arms Control

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force, or INF, Treaty was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington on Dec. 8, 1987. Key facts about the treaty:

  • Banned the use of intermediate and shorter range missiles with a range of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers (about 300 to 3,400 miles).
  • By 1991, it eliminated more than 2,700 U.S. and Soviet missiles, including hundreds of American Pershing IIs and Soviet SS-20s.
  • The U.S. gave up 846 missile systems and the Soviets scrapped 1,846 systems.
  • The U.S. missiles were in countries including Germany, the U.K., Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • The Soviet missiles were in Belarus, Bulgaria, then-Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Russia, among others.
  • Source: U.S. State Department, Federal of American Scientists, INF Treaty documents.

The U.S. would only be in violation of the treaty if it tests, produces or fields the new ground-based cruise missile under development. Researching and designing the weapon doesn’t constitute a violation.

Mr. Mattis is trying to balance Washington’s more muscular response with European fears that the U.S. would abandon an arms-control pact that leaders on the continent saw as a critical milestone in reducing Cold War tensions.

The INF push is part of a larger effort to craft a new Russia strategy by the State and Defense Departments, U.S. officials said. The administration is making a push for a Ukraine peacekeeping deal and is trying to strengthen arms control accords that have frayed amid U.S.-Russian tensions, say U.S. officials.

This summer, Congress instructed the Pentagon to begin research and development on an intermediate-range, road-mobile, ground-launched missile system in response to Russia’s violations of the treaty. The Pentagon started preliminary research for the missile given the likelihood that it soon would be required by law, U.S. officials said.

The House and Senate passed legislation authorizing research and development of a conventional “ground mobile” cruise missile, adding an extra potential challenge to Russian defenses if deployed. The White House is likely to approve it in the coming weeks, U.S. officials said.

The legislation also requires the administration to develop a new plan for additional sanctions on Russia related to its violations of the INF and authorizes the administration to “invoke legal countermeasures,” including possible suspension of the treaty.

For months, the U.S. has sought ways to secure Russian compliance with the INF. The U.S. summoned Moscow in late 2016 to a mandatory meeting under a special treaty commission to answer for the alleged Russian violations, to no avail.

In March, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Russians had violated the treaty by deploying a land-based cruise missile. The missile’s range puts it at odds with the treaty, U.S. officials have said.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in the White House in 1987.Photo: REUTERS

The INF Treaty, signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1987, entered into force the following year and banned the use and production of nuclear and conventionally-armed missiles that fly between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (311 miles and 3,418 miles). It doesn’t ban those fired by ships or aircraft.

Russian officials have denied they are in violation of the treaty and instead have accused the Pentagon of violating the pact by installing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in Romania and Poland. U.S. officials have denied that accusation, saying that the Aegis systems launch only missiles outside the parameters of the treaty.

The legislation calls on the administration to determine whether Russia’s RS-26 is banned by the INF or will be regulated as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Moscow also has stoked concern with its SSC-8 cruise missile.

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Russia’s RS-26

The INF Treaty remains critical for Europe’s security. The pact removed American-made Pershing II missiles from Europe, along with Soviet RDS-10 Pioneer, known to NATO as the SS-20.

The usually stoic NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, grew passionate this month while defending the INF Treaty’s importance.

“I’m part of a political generation in Europe which really grew up with the very intense debate related to the deployment of the SS-20s and the Pershing,” he said. “We also very much welcomed the INF Treaty which then eliminated all these weapons in Europe. So, I think that the INF Treaty is a cornerstone.”

Write to Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com, Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com and Brett Forrest at brett.forrest@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/pentagon-moves-to-develop-banned-intermediate-missile-1510862789

Putin Heats Up The Old Cold War Play Book To Confound Trump, Nato

February 15, 2017

 A Russian intelligence-gathering ship has been spotted roaming the waters off the East Coast (pictured in 2015 off the coast of Cuba)

  • The SSV-175 Viktor Leonov ship moved even closer to the East Coast today
  • Spotted 70 miles off the coast of Delaware on Tuesday in international waters
  • Now it is ‘loitering’ just 30 miles away from a Connecticut Naval submarine base
  • Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea just days before a spy ship was spotted off the East Coast 
  • Russia has also secretly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile
  • Latest development comes as a Russian intelligence-gathering ship was spotted roaming the international waters 70 miles off the coast of Delaware on Tuesday 
  • Officials say they are keeping a close eye on the spy ship which is armed with surface-to-air missiles but say it’s ‘not a huge concern’

A Russian spy ship has been spotted loitering just 30 miles off the coast of a Naval submarine base – the latest in series of belligerent moves by their military as Moscow appears to be testing the resolve of Donald Trump’s young presidency.

The SSV-175 Viktor Leonov ship moved even closer to the East Coast today, after it was spotted 70 miles off the coast of Delaware on Tuesday, Fox News reports.

While it remains in international waters, a U.S. official said the armed boat – capable of intercepting communications and sonar capability – is ‘loitering’.

‘We are aware of the vessel’s presence,’ said Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Defense Department spokeswoman. ‘It has not entered U.S. territorial waters. We respect freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal State consistent with international law.

The spy ship is just 30 miles away from the Naval submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.

‘It’s not a huge concern, but we are keeping our eyes on it,’ they added.

The Viktor Leonov, which measures 300 feet long and 47.5 feet wide, has a crew of 200 sailors carries high-tech electronic surveillance equipment and weaponry, AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles.

The ship sighting and missile deployment also comes as Trump demanded his national security adviser’s resignation on Monday night after concluding that an ‘eroding level of trust’ had made it impossible to leave him in the sensitive position.

Russia has also deployed a new cruise missile apparently violating an arms control treaty banning ground-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles.

Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea just days before a spy ship was spotted off the East Coast (stock image)

Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea just days before a spy ship was spotted off the East Coast (stock image)

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The USS Porter was taking part in a military exercise in The Black Sea at the time

The USS Porter was taking part in a military exercise in The Black Sea at the time

The nation has secretly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile that Moscow has been developing and testing for several years, despite U.S. complaints that it violated sections of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, The New York Times reported.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the New York Times story.

And last week, four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea just days before a spy ship was spotted off the East Coast.

The USS Porter, a guided missile destroyer, reported the aircraft performing ‘dangerous flybys’ past the ship which was based just off the coast of Romania on February 10.

‘There were several incidents involving multiple Russian aircraft,’ said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the European Command. ‘They were assessed by the commanding officer as unsafe and unprofessional.

Two Russian Su-24 jet fighters had buzzed the ship, followed by a single Su-24 and then an IL-38 transport aircraft.

Russia has also deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints by U.S. officials that it violates an arms control treaty banning ground-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles. (file above of Russian President Vladimir Putin)

Russia has also deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints by U.S. officials that it violates an arms control treaty banning ground-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles. (file above of Russian President Vladimir Putin)

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The missile deployment and ship sighting comes as Trump (far left) demanded the resignation of Michael Flynn (far right), his national security adviser for talking to the Russian ambassador

The missile deployment and ship sighting comes as Trump (far left) demanded the resignation of Michael Flynn (far right), his national security adviser for talking to the Russian ambassador

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The aircraft failed to respond to several radio requests from the U.S. military to halt the overflights, and did not have their electronic identifying transponders activated – used to help identify hostile and friendly aircraft on radar.

The buzzing of the USS Porter, which had been taking part in an annual international military exercise called Sea Shield, occurred in international waters off the Romanian coast.

Russia’s actions prove to be a challenge for President Donald Trump, as he had pledged to improve the relations between the U.S. and Russia by working with President Vladimir Putin during his campaign.

‘I respect a lot of people,’ Trump told Fox News. ‘But that doesn’t mean I am going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. Will I get along with them? I have no idea.’

Prior to Trump’s administration, the last encounter between the Russian and U.S. military came when two Russian jets flew dangerously close to U.S. P-8A maritime patrol aircraft over the Black Sea.

The intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov has been spotted on and off around the East Coast over the past few years (pictured in Havana in 2014)

The intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov has been spotted on and off around the East Coast over the past few years (pictured in Havana in 2014)

Russian bombers also recently completed a major nuclear exercise.

Sea Shield is a joint exercise between the U.S. and NATO to support member states concerned about Russian aggression following its take over of Crimea.

THE RUSSIAN SPY VESSEL VIKTOR LEONOV

The Vishnya class intelligence-gathering ship went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet.

It named after Second World War Soviet sailor Viktor Leonov.

Ship measures 300 feet long and 47.5 feet wide.

It has a crew of 200 sailors carries high-tech electronic surveillance equipment and weaponry, AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles.

‘USS Porter queried all aircraft and received no response,’ Hernandez said.

‘Such incidents are concerning because they can result in accident or miscalculation,’ he said referring to actions that could spark an unintended shootout by military forces.

The incidents involving the Su-24 were considered to be unsafe and unprofessional by the commanding officer of the Porter because of their high speed and low altitude, while the IL-38 flew at an unusually low altitude, Hernandez said.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the closest incident that day involved the lone SU-24, which came within 200 yards of the Porter at an altitude of 300 feet (91 meters).

The move was the first such act of Russian military aggression towards U.S. forces since Trump’s inauguration. But the country has been quick to follow up after a Russian intelligence-gathering ship was spotted roaming the waters off the East Coast. Read more:

U.S.: Russia In Violation Of Two Arms-Control Treaties

December 12, 2014

By Luke Johnson

Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller says Russia is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller says Russia is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

ASHINGTON — The United States has accused Russia of violating two key arms-control treaties.

Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said at a congressional hearing on December 10 that Russia was in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

Russia has denied that it violated the INF Treaty and accused the United States of its own violations. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a moratorium on the CFE Treaty in 2007.

Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms-control official, said the United States would remain in the INF treaty and wanted to work to bring Russia back into full compliance with the treaty.

“It’s very important to continue to press the Russians to come back into compliance with the treaty. If somehow we left the treaty it would be essentially giving them a free ride to do whatever they well please,” she said.

Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense, said the United States was looking at several military countermeasures to take in response to Russia’s violation of the treaty.

The United States first accused Russia of violating the treaty in July by test-launching a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile.

The 1987 treaty bans ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

The hearing was held by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces of the Armed Services Committee.

When asked for a “yes” or “no” answer on whether Russia was in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention, Gottemoeller responded both times, “with regard to the Soviet-era programs, no,” and was not allowed to give a full answer.

She said that the Russia was in compliance with the Treaty on Open Skies, allowing each party to conduct short-notice unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory, and the New START Treaty, a nuclear arms-reduction treaty. Russia announced on December 8 that it would conduct a reconnaissance flight over U.S. territory under the treaty.

http://www.rferl.org/content/united-states-russia-arms-treaties-/26736623.html

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Another Provocation from Putin? Russia Tests Ground-Launched Cruise Missile — Violated 1987 Treaty With U.S.

July 29, 2014

By Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post

The Obama administration has determined that Russia violated a 1987 treaty on intermediate-range missiles by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, a senior administration official said.

The violation, which began some years ago, is included in a 2014 compliance report on the treaty to be released Tuesday and was the subject of a letter President Obama sent Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now,” the official said. “We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations . . . and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner.”

It was unclear how long the testing lasted, or whether it was ongoing. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that “we have notified Russia of our determination and are prepared to discuss this in a senior-level bilateral dialogue immediately.”

Obama’s letter to Putin was first reported online Monday by the New York Times, which said that Russia began testing the missiles in 2008 and that the State Department first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials in 2013. At the time, the paper said, Russia said it had looked into the matter and considered it closed.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, prohibits possession, production or flight testing of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles, or possession or production of launchers of such missiles.

News of the alleged violation comes as relations between the United States and Russia are seriously strained over Russia’s backing of separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine. Obama administration officials have said that, despite their growing differences and the imposition of U.S. economic sanctions over Ukraine, Moscow has continued to cooperate with Washington on a range of nuclear and other foreign policy issues.

See also: The New York Times
U.S. Says Russia Tested Cruise Missile, Violating Treaty
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/world/europe/us-says-russia-tested-cruise-missile-in-violation-of-treaty.html?_r=0

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, shakes hands with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Dec. 8, 1987, after the two leaders signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Bob Daugherty/Associated Press)