US claims that Russia violated the 1987 nuclear missile treaty
The United States has accused Russia of violating a landmark arms control treaty that was put into place during the Reagan-Gorbachev era in 1987. The United States concluded that by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, Russia violated the treaty, a finding which was conveyed to President Putin by a letter from President Obama on Monday.
The allegation of an arms control treaty violation is incredibly serious and adds yet another dispute between the United States and Russia. The relationship between the two countries has soured drastically in the last few months due in large part to Russia’s support for the separatists in Ukraine and its decision to grant asylum to a former NSA agent turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
The treaty that Russia allegedly violated was put into place in 1987 in an effort to ban ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles that are capable of flying between 300 and 3,400 miles. The treaty was signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev in the later years of the Cold War. In fact, the treaty has been regarded as a cornerstone of United States-Russian arms control efforts and contributed significantly to the end of the Cold War.
According to United States officials, Russia has been testing the cruise missiles since as far back as 2008, and the Obama administration had come to the conclusion that these missiles were a compliance concern by the end of 2011. Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, was the first one to raise the possibility of a violation with Russian officials back in May 2013.
In January of this year, United States officials reportedly informed America’s NATO allies that Russia had been testing a ground-launched cruise missile. This raised serious concerns that Russia was no longer complying with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. At the time, the State Department said that it was reviewing the issue and that the Obama administration was not yet ready to declare it to be a violation of the treaty.
However, the issue has been taken up by top-level officials in recent months. Early this month there was a meeting of the Principals’ Committee, a cabinet-level body that includes President Obama’s national security adviser, the defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of state, and the director of the CIA. President Obama’s most senior advisors agreed unanimously that the test was a serious violation of the treaty and that the allegation will be made public.
Read more about the story at the BBC.