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Russian diplomat says Moscow ready to discuss INF treaty compliance with Washington

March 10, 2017, 15:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The focal point of the dispute is the Mk-41 launchers, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman explained

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US Navy officer looks on at the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, a war ship carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania

US Navy officer looks on at the weapons control deck of the USS Monterey, a war ship carrying AEGIS class ballistic missile defense technology, in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania

© AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Russia is prepared to conduct a dialog with the United States on compliance with the INF treaty for lifting the existing concerns and clarifying likely controversies, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Friday.

As she remarked, while accusing Russia of violating the INF treaty, "the United States firmly refuses to discuss our own well-founded claims related with the INF treaty’s compliance by the US itself."

"The focal point of the dispute is the Mk-41 launchers - ground-based Aegis Shore systems the United States has deployed in Romania and plans to deploy in Poland. For a solid reason they can be regarded as cruise missile launchers," Zakharova said.

"There are quite a few questions about the United States’ large-scale program for creating target missiles for testing missile defense systems having identical parameters to ground-launched intermediate and shorter range missiles. Also, the United States makes and uses attack drones liable to the INF’s definition of ground-based cruise missiles.

"Once again we suggest giving up groundless rhetoric and public accusations lacking specific examples and starting a discussion on the merits with the aim of lifting the existing concerns and clearing up likely controversies," Zakharova said. "All mechanisms are in place. We are open to such a dialog via the corresponding channels."

'Groundless accusations'

Washington’s accusations of Moscow violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are groundless, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman reiterated.

"We have taken notice of the statement made by the Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva, who said that Russia had allegedly deployed a land-based cruise missile thus violating the "spirit and intent" of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," the Russian diplomat said. "Such statements are disappointing but it is no news. However, it is not what we expect from a high-ranking military officer who should be very well informed. He could have clarified what his statement was based on and what the particular violation was."

"This is not the first time when we hear a US official publicly accuse Russia of violating the INF Treaty," Zakharova stressed. "This means, the usual scheme has been used once again to make allegations and then decline to provide details," the Russian diplomat noted.

"We have more than once confirmed out commitment to the INF Treaty and explained to the United States that all missiles tests conducted in Russia are in line with this document," Zakharova stated. "During various negotiations, meetings and consultations, that we requested Washington to clarify the reasons for its concern. But the US representatives usually responded by saying that we should figure it out for ourselves." "Obviously, this is anything but a serious approach," she added.

"A thing to note is that in response to Russia’s alleged violations, the US threatens to take some military steps," the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman went on to say. "The fact that the US officials continue to put forward such accusations without presenting evidence, raises the question of their true intentions."

The US has been making such allegations against Russian since 2014. Russia, in turn, has been dismissing the allegations and voicing its own concerns. Besides that, in the past, Moscow has been repeatedly emphasizing that Washington fails to provide specific information concerning its accusations.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987, stipulates that the parties will neither produce nor test-fire nor deploy land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-1,000 kilometers (short-range) and 1,000-5,500 km (intermediate-range).

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