NATO Chief Warns Russia on Missile That Threatens Treaty

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg briefs the media following a Jan. 25, 2019, meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.

(CN) — Recapping the first meeting of the year by the NATO-Russia council, the secretary-general of the military alliance said Friday that Russia’s unsanctioned missile development threatens the future of a Cold War-era treaty.

“All members of the NATO-Russia Council agree that the treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference today in Brussels. “But the treaty is now in jeopardy.”

Stoltenberg said the Allies are in agreement that Russia’s SSC-8 system, also known as the Novator 9M729, violates the INF Treaty. Short for the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, the treaty signed in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union bans the production, testing and deployment of land-based nuclear and conventional missiles capable of 310-3,400 miles of travel. 

Although Moscow has claimed its SSC-8 missile has a range of less than 310 miles, the Pentagon believes it would easily be capable of launching a surprise nuclear strike in Europe.

“The responsibility to preserve the treaty lies on Russia because Russia is now violating the treaty by developing and deploying new missiles,” Stoltenberg said, noting that Russia’s new missiles are hard to detect. 

Stoltenberg also dismissed claims made by Russia that the U.S. has violated the treaty by using drones and ballistic missiles used for target practice.

In line with President Donald Trump’s October warning that the U.S. would leave the pact because of Russia’s conduct, Stoltenberg warned that Russia must return to compliance within the next week to forestall the six-month process of the U.S. leaving the treaty beginning Feb. 2.

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