Russian Federation to nuclear test ban monitor: Test accident not your business

Clay Curtis
August 20, 2019

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in comments to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday expressed concern that the United States is increasing "the destabilizing potential" of the issue.

Conducted Sunday, the test of the medium-range ground-launched cruise missile came just weeks after the USA and Russian Federation formally left the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that saw them eliminate that class of nuclear-capable weapons.

A top Russian diplomat has lamented the US test of a type of missile that was banned for decades before both Washington and Moscow quit the treaty earlier this year.

In an e-mail sent to RFE/RL, Reif said it "would force hard and contentious conversations with and among allies about where to base them, and would likely prompt Russian Federation and China to take steps that would increase the threat to the United States and its allies".

The INF banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Critics fear Trump's withdrawal from the treaty and tests like Sunday's set up the USA for a new arms race, particularly as the White House has made no meaningful steps toward creating a framework to impose comparable restraints.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that United States missile tests could unleash a new arms race, which could have serious consequences for regional and global security.

"We advise the abandon its outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game concept, maintain restraint in the arms development, earnestly safeguard the existing arms control system and do more that is conducive to maintaining global strategic balance and stability and conducive to worldwide and regional peace and tranquility".

18 conducted a test of an intermediate-range, ground-based cruise missile, about two weeks after the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Moscow insisted the range of a missile system that has prompted Washington to withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms treaty is allowed under the agreement.

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Russian Defense Ministry officials show off Russia's 9M729 cruise missile at the military Patriot Park outside Moscow on January 23.

"The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target" over 310 miles away, the Pentagon said in a statement which did not mention which branches of the military service were involved.

But, he added, "my guess is that they, like China, are more likely to be most concerned about the general deployment of missile defenses in the region, and the open question regarding the system's offensive capabilities is a good pretext for raising concerns about the deployment itself".

But he also stressed the United States was not embarking on a new arms race.

Some experts believe the treaty's collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system created to block the spread of nuclear arms.

The missile was previously banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

"Right now, we don't have plans to build nuclear-tipped INF-range weapons". Lt. Col Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman added, "The launcher used in Sunday's test is a MK 41; however, the system tested is not the same as the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System now operating in Romania and under construction in Poland".

The missile apparently exploded during testing at a site along the White Sea in Russia's Arctic northwest, killing at least five scientists and causing a local spike in radiation levels.

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