MOSCOW, December 7. /TASS/. The 9M729 missile does not fall under the restrictions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear forces (INF) Treaty and the US claims over it are inconsistent, Member of the Defense and Security Committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament Franz Klintsevich said on Friday.
"The US claims over the 9M729 missile are completely inconsistent and its range falls short of 500 km," the senator said, commenting on the statement by US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson.
As the Russian senator pointed out, the missile’s range excludes it from the bans stipulated in the INF Treaty.
US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Thompson said on Thursday that Russia should return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by either scrapping its 9M729 missile system (NATO reporting name SSC-8) or altering it in a verifiable manner. In turn, the Americans are ready to remove the possibility of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles from missile shield launchers in Europe.
In Klintsevich’s opinion, Thompson’s explanations "can be considered as a certain positive signal after all, especially if they are compared to what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on this issue recently."
The Russian legislator presumed that the US administration was leaving a possibility for negotiations and also for preserving the INF Treaty.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said after a meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers in Brussels on December 4 that Washington would drop the INF Treaty if Russia failed to resume compliance within a sixty-day deadline.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media on December 5 that the United States had presented no proof Moscow was in breach of the INF Treaty. Russia is against ruining this treaty, but it will have to respond properly in case of the United States’ pullout, he warned.
INF Treaty issue
The INF Treaty was signed in Washington on December 8, 1987, and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles. By June 1991, the Soviet Union had eliminated 1,846 missiles, while the United States rolled back its arsenal to 846. That said, inspections ended in May 2001.
Back in July 2014, Washington accused Moscow for the first time of violating the INF Treaty. Since then, the US has repeated this claim more than once.
Russia strongly dismissed the accusations and struck back at the US with counterclaims, saying the United States has been blatantly violating the treaty by deploying at its bases in Europe multi-purpose Mk-41 vertical launching systems, which can also be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. Besides, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Fomin said in mid-August that Washington had made a decision earlier this year to finance a project to build mobile launching systems for land-based cruise missiles with the range of 500-5,500 km, which also fall under the treaty’s limits.