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US tests show Washington will not get back to compliance with INF Treaty — Lavrov

Russia's top diplomat pointed to no response from the US to the proposal to extend the New START
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov  Alexandr Sherbak/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, September 2. /TASS/. The latest missile tests in the United States indicate that Washington has no intention of getting back to compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told an audience of students and teachers at the MGIMO university and the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy on the occasion of the beginning of a new academic year.

He said Washington had already ruined that treaty on a far-fetched pretext.

"The United States has already tested an intermediate range ground-based missile using a launcher it has all the way positioned as capable of launching only missile interceptors. This indicates that Washington has no intention of getting back to compliance with that treaty," he said.

The United States on August 18 tested a ground-based cruise missile having parameters outlawed under the INF Treaty for the first time since its pullout from that agreement. The missile’s range is more than 500 kilometers. US officials had repeatedly mentioned the possibility of flight-testing a ground-based cruise missile at the end of August. In the middle of March Pentagon officials said the missile to be tested was a Tomahawk with a flight range of more than 1,000 kilometers. Also, in the November the Department of Defense is going to test an intermediate range ground-based ballistic missile. According to the Pentagon it will be a totally new missile similar to the Pershing-2 missile. The United States eliminated its Pershing-2s in 1991 in accordance with the INF Treaty.

Involving China

Moscow will not urge Beijing to join new negotiations on the situation regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

Russia’s top diplomat recalled that the basic premise for starting negotiations on the INF Treaty, according to Washington, was Beijing’s involvement in them. "China said that its nuclear capabilities could not be compared to those of the US and Russia. That is why its participation [in the negotiations] cannot be supported," Lavrov noted. "However, the Americans continue to declare that, asking us to persuade China. We will not do that."

"If the United States obtains China’s consent, we will be ready to talk. I believe, however, that forcing Beijing [to do that] against its will is inappropriate," he stressed.

US President Donald Trump and other officials in Washington earlier came up with the idea of China’s involvement in talks on nuclear disarmament and arms control. The United States insists that new potential agreements on intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles apply to China as well.

NATO reaction

Moscow has offered NATO states to join the moratorium on the deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, however, there has been no response yet, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Monday during his speech before the students.

"We have informed NATO members [about the voluntary moratorium on the deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles], we offered them to join it collectively," Lavrov stated. "So far, there has been no reaction."

On August 2, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was officially terminated at the US initiative. The US said that its actions were provoked by Russia’s refusal to comply with the American ultimatum-like demand to eliminate the new 9M729 cruise missiles, which Washington and its NATO allies believe to violate the INF Treaty. Moscow has been rejecting these accusations, saying that the technical parameters of the 9M729 missiles are within the parameters allowed by the treaty and laying counterclaims to Washington.

Developments in relation to New START Treaty

Moscow has received no clear signal from Washington yet in response to the proposal to extend the New START Treaty, Sergey Lavrov stated.

Lavrov pointed to a negative situation in arms control. "After withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in the early 2000s, the United States put an end to the existence of another important accord on intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. The fate of the New START, which expires in February 2021, is in question," he said.

"We spoke out in favor of extending that treaty for another five years in accordance with that document’s provision. So far, we have seen no clear response to that proposal from the US, but we keep working," Lavrov stressed.

The Russian-US New START Treaty will expire in 2021. It can be extended for a period of five years. On July 31, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the New START was unlikely to be prolonged, but for the time being Washington had made no decisions on that score.

Suspicions of West's interference in work of government websites

Moscow suspects that Western countries have interfered with the work of Russia’s government online resources, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated in his address marking the start of the new academic year. 

According to Russia’s top diplomat, the issue of international cyber security has become more acute over the past few years because of attempts to accuse Russia of hacking US online resources during the presidential election campaign. "Not a single accusation has been convincingly substantiated. However, this myth continues to circulate in the US and Western media outlets and emerge in some Western politicians’ speeches," Lavrov said.

"We too have good reasons to suspect that our Western counterparts are showing an increased interest in our online resources," Lavrov stressed. "Representatives of Russia’s Central Bank, Sberbank and other government agencies pointed to that."