Nagasaki mayor urges US, Russia to keep INF treaty


Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday said the country must develop new types of missile systems in the next two years after Washington and Moscow ripped up a key arms control treaty.

On Friday, the United States announced the suspension of its participation in the Cold War era treaty that banned ground-launched medium-range missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles.

The stern message came in response to Moscow's threats of countermeasures should the US leave the INF, a move Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of his top officials have said could destabilize the worldwide arms control regime. The US has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russian Federation misrepresents its actions, Trump said.

"Within 2019-2020 we must develop a land-based version of the ship-based Kalibr complex", Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a ministry briefing.

"We will respond quid pro quo", Putin said. "Over the same period we will also have to create a land-based missile system with a long-range hypersonic missile".

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Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters that although Tokyo understands Washington's concerns about Russia's alleged violation of the INF pact, "a situation in which the treaty has to end is not desirable for the world".

The Russian leader said Moscow remains open to talks with Washington, but added it would be up to the take the first step.

Axel Goethals, CEO of Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies, said it is clear that the U.S., in withdrawing from this treaty, wants to have its hands more free to deal with the new multilateral world order.

Defense experts say that because ground-based intermediate-range missiles are cheaper than sea and air-launched versions, Russian Federation could theoretically place more of them within range of European targets.

This will not start an arms race; one has been going on for 10 years at least.

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Putin also noted during yesterday's meeting that he would like the military to prepare a response to the possible deployment of weapons in space, echoing Trump's calls. He said the military must reconfigure the existing defence budget to find money for the new weapons.

Russian Federation says they could also be used for attacks.

"We must not and will not be drawn into a costly arms race", he said.

In one of the first blows to post-Cold War arms control efforts, the USA pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002. Some of the other weapons include the Avangard, a hypersonic boost-glide reentry vehicle, the Poseidon, an autonomous thermonuclear torpedo, the Sarmat, a new intercontinental-range ballistic missile, and the Kinzhal, an air-launched ballistic missile.

Moscow issued a "mirror" response to the USA move and also suspended its participation in the treaty.

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This is a developing story, more to follow. John Bolton, Trump's National Security Adviser, is a well-known foe of global treaties and agreements.