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US anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe violate INF Treaty - Russian foreign ministry

"Obviously, it is a flagrant violation of liabilities under the INF Treaty," the ministry stressed

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. The United States’ deployment of its Aegis Ashore anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe is a flagrant violation of Washington’s liabilities under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), the Russian foreign ministry said on Saturday commenting on latest report of the US Department of State on countries’ observance of their liabilities in the sphere of weapons control and non-proliferation.

"The United States has deployed Aegis Ashore anti-missile systems at its base in Romania and plans to deploy another such system in Poland. Such systems incorporate vertical launch systems similar to Mk-41 universal systems that are capable of launching intermediate-range cruise missiles Tomahawk," the ministry noted.

"Obviously, it is a flagrant violation of liabilities under the INF Treaty," the ministry stressed.

According to the ministry, this is not the only section of the treaty where Washington is failing its liabilities. Thus, for more than two decades, the United States has been continuing tests with the use target missiles having the same characteristics as ground-based short-and medium-range ballistic missiles to improve elements of the systems prohibited by the INF Treaty. More to it, Washington is boosting production and the use of unmanned fighting vehicles that fall under the INF Treaty’s definition of ground-based cruise missiles.

"Notably, we have been pointing to the two latter violations of the INF Treaty for 15 years," the ministry said. "But there is no constructive reaction.".

Russia’s foreign ministry has warned the United States about inadmissibility of strengthening its own security at the expense of other countries.

"While implementing its anti-missile plans, the United States must be guided, in deed but not in words, by the generally recognized principle of inadmissibility of strengthening own security at the expense of other states. Notably, Washington has repeatedly reiterated this principle in corresponding international formats," the ministry said on Saturday commenting on the latest regular report of the US Department of State on observance by states of non-proliferation and weapons control agreeements.

The ministry reminded that the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001 to embark on the course towards unilateral and unrestricted building up of its global anti-missile defense system. "This way it has wrecked on of the pillars of the global strategic stability system," the ministry stressed.

Threat to international security

"The US’ deployment of its missile-defense system has adversely impacted the system of international security, dramatically complicated relations not only in the Euro-Atlantic but also in the Asia-Pacific region and turned into one of the most serious obstacles on the path of further gradual nuclear disarmament as it creates dangerous opportunities for the resumption of the nuclear arms race," the ministry said.

"The danger is that the existence of an anti-missile umbrella may give rise to a calamitous illusion of invincibility and impunity and hence tempt hotheads in Washington into new dangerous unilateral steps on global and regional problems in bypassing of the United Nations Security Council and contrary to common sense, like it was done on April 7 when the United States delivered a missile strike on a sovereign state, Syria," the ministry noted.

"We have repeatedly drawn attention of the US side to this problem but the US side demonstrates no readiness for cooperation and reckoning with Russia’s concerns. The United States has refused to even discuss its own guarantees that missile-defense systems that are being deployed in Europe are not aimed against Russia," the ministry said.

"We still have no answer who these super-costly missile-defense preparations are conducted against as they are disproportional to all possible challenges.

Iran deal fails to change situation

"Demonstrative in this respect was the US’s unwillingness to adjust its missile defense plans despite successful implementation of the 2015 agreements on the Iranian nuclear program," the ministry noted. "However we remember that it used to be a core and, as a matter of fact, the only argument Washington used to justify deployment of its anti-missile systems in Europe."

"Anti-missile elements that are being deployed around the world are part of a very dangerous global project aimed at securing US’ overall overwhelming superiority to the prejudice of security interests of other states," the Russian foreign ministry underscored. "The US missile defense architecture is tilting the strategic balance of forces in the area of offensive weapons and creates more and more serious risks of global instability.".

CFE Treaty

Russia sees no point in getting back to the subject of the implementation of the absolutely obsolete Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the ministry says.

"Since the authors of the report once again mentioned Russia’s suspension of its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe presenting it as a ‘violation’ of liabilities under this treaty, we should remind the following: the United States and its allies have more than once violated restrictive provisions of the CFE Treaty through NATO’s expansion," the ministry said. "Moreover, they have been dodging Russia’s initiative to upgrade the regime of control over conventional weapons in Europe in compliance with the new military political realities on the continent. The most vivid example is their refusal to ratify an agreement on adaptation of the CFE Treaty."

"Bearing in mind all these circumstances, we see no sense in getting back to the subject of the implementation of the CFE Treaty which has long gone obsolete," the ministry said. "As for the prospects for a new regime of control over conventional weapons in Europe on the principles of equal and indivisible security, balanced rights and liabilities of the parties, they should be looked at in the context of NATO’s abandoning measures of military "containment’ of Russia in Europe, normalization of relations with Russia, including in the sphere of military cooperation."

The Russian foreign ministry reminded that only after Russia had suspended the CFE Treaty, the United States and its allies raised the issue of the "necessity to solve the problem of control over conventional weapons in Europe." "But their attempts to use dialogue on this matter as a tool to exert pressure on Russia have in the long run led to its suspension," the ministry explained.

"Stating their commitment to preserving, strengthening and modernization of control over conventional weapons in Europe, the United States and NATO have actually embarked on a course towards ‘containing’ Russia and further tilting the balance of forces in Europe in their favor, including in the exact vicinity of the Russian borders," the ministry pointed. "US’ attempts at ‘flexible’ interpretation of the provisions of the Russia-NATO Founding Act along with building up heavy weapons and military hardware at NATO’s European advanced deployment depots are nothing but dangerous balancing on the verge of violating provisions of this most important document.".

US military biological infrastructure in neighboring countries

Moscow is alarmed over the deployment of the United States’ military biological infrastructure along its borders, the foreign ministry says.

"We cannot but be concerned over systemic deployment of the US’ military biological infrastructure along the Russian borders," the ministry said. "Of special worry is reinforcing of the US Army Medical Research Directorate - Georgia (in the village of Alexeyevka)."

"Pentagon is implementing similar projects in other our neighboring countries," the ministry said.

Despite its liabilities, the United States still leaves room for possible "retaliatory use" of toxic and other types of chemical weapons. "It creates a rather alarming situation around the US’ observance of liabilities under the BWC [Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction - TASS]," the ministry added.

Russia is not reviewing its stance on role of nuclear weapons

Allegations that Russia is reviewing its stance on the role of nuclear weapons are not true, the Russian foreign ministry says.

"Concurrently, the absolutely ungrounded false thesis of growing ‘Russian nuclear threat’ is being fomented," the ministry said. "Provisions of our Military Doctrine concerning the use of nuclear weapons are deliberately distorted. Allegations that Russia is reviewing its views on the place and role of nuclear weapons and is focusing on them are being inculcated onto Western society."

"All this has nothing to do with the real state of things," the ministry stressed.

According to the ministry, it is possible to speak about changing attitude to the role of nuclear weapons only in the context of the US’ modernizing its nuclear arsenals. "The United States plans to deploy new nuclear air bombs with lower capacity but higher precision," the ministry noted. "Such characteristics considerably lower the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons. Such nuclear tools are no longer a political weapon but are rather combat weapon.".

Freeze of Russia’s tranche on IAEA projects

US banks’ freezing of Russia’s tranche meant to finance humanitarian projects of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can be seen as abuse of the international financial system, the ministry says.

"There is no escaping the impression that deliberate steps are being taken to create obstacles for Russia’s financing an IAEA humanitarian project. Such actions by US banks can be seen as abuse of the international financial system by means of control over dollar-denominated transactions, which, in this case, does direct harm to the operation of the United Nations system," the ministry stressed.

The ministry reminded that in March US banks had frozen a tranche of Russia’s voluntary contribution to finance the implementation of the IAEA Program of Action for Cancer Therapy and the Russian bank making the payment had been asked to confirm that the money transfer had nothing to do with Iran. "Despite the Russia’s side explanation that the sum was meant purely for humanitarian purposes, American banks delayed the transfer for several weeks and returned the frozen sum to the account of the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom in early April," the ministry said. "IAEA cannot receive the Russian voluntary contribution for cancer treatment in 2017 till now."

"We believe that US financial institutions would hardly dare to block state payments of a sovereign state. It looks like a free interpretation of US government restrictions in the context of national sanctions that are indiscriminately harming even purely humanitarian operations," the ministry stressed. "Despite the fact that the Russian side has repeatedly raised this issue in contacts with US officials, the US administration has failed to explain to its banks that their steps were erroneous.".

"Joint nuclear missions"

The United States is not observing its key liabilities under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT Treaty) when it involves its allies to the so-called joint nuclear missions, the Russian foreign ministry says.

"The United States is claiming it ‘observes’ its liabilities under the NPT Treaty but the alarming situation linked with Washington’s non-observance of key provisions of that treaty is still in place," the ministry said. "The United States continues to involve European non-nuclear NATO countries to the so-called joint nuclear missions."

The ministry reminded that such ‘joint nuclear missions’ typically include elements of nuclear planning and drills of practical skills of the use of nuclear weapons that involve carrier planes, their crews, infrastructure of airfield and ground support services on non-nuclear NATO states. "It is a direct violation of Articles I and II of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," the ministry stressed.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, the problem of joint nuclear mission has only one solution that is to pull all non-strategic nuclear weapons back to the US territory and ban their deployment abroad, eliminate the entire infrastructure that can be used for quick deployment of such weapons, and, "of course, to refrain from any exercises linked with drilling skills of the use of nuclear weapons by the armed forces of state that don’t possess such weapons.".

Iraq, Syria

Russia calls on the United States to share with the United Nations Security Council data on the presumable use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, the Russian foreign ministry says.

"The United States should demonstrate a more responsible approach to the issue of the use of chemical weapons in the Middle East by non-state entities," the ministry said. "And for these ends, it should simply act in compliance with its liabilities under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2118, 2209 and 2235 and share with the United Nations Security Council evidence to crimes committed by Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Iraqi Kurdistan collected by the US military in 2015-2016 directly in the sites where extremists used these toxic agents."

"We would also like to see ‘irrefutable’ proof that chemical weapons that were allegedly used in an attack on Khan Shaykhun [a city in the Syrian Idlib Governorate] had been stored at the Syrian airbase in Shayrat in order to understand why Washington acted in violation of international law over the presumable chemical incident in Idlib," the ministry added.

Instead, the United States has blocked a decision of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on organizing an objective investigation in Khan Shaykhun, the ministry said, adding that the United States has not yet provided information about the elimination of chemical weapons seized in Iraq back in 2003-2009.

Russia wants US to explain violations in arms control sphere

Russian expects explanations from Washington on violation of its liabilities in the sphere of arms control, the Russian foreign ministry says.

"We want to hear articulate explanations on all episodes we mentioned and call on the United States once again to abandon its unseemly practices of laying ungrounded claims to other states on the backdrop of its own serious ‘drawbacks’ and this way misleading international public opinion," the ministry said.

"We also express the hope that Washington will finally returns to the time-tested efficient way of settling disputable issues and differences, i.e. full-format talks with all-round consideration of the core of problems, without politically-motivated biases and grandstanding through throwing ungrounded accusations," the ministry added.

The ministry cited US’ violations of its liabilities under other agreements, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as well as problems with the implementation of US’ liabilities in the sphere of control over conventional, chemical and biological weapons, and the Open Skies Treaty.

Standing for formal observance of liabilities in the sphere of arms control, the United States is giving dogmatic assessment to the actions of other states in violation of international practices of settling such issues, the Russian foreign ministry pointed. "In the recent years, there have been more and more grounds to think that such US’ actions are rooted not in trivial unwillingness to put itself to the bother of maintaining an uneasy and long expert dialogue but rather in something more serious - Washington’s fear to be caught in throwing ungrounded accusations against other states and in violating international arms control and non-proliferation agreements," the Russian ministry stressed.