Nato won't deploy nuclear missiles to Europe after end of US-Russia arms control treaty

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg comments on the end of the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty – REUTERS

Nato has said it will not deploy nuclear missiles in Europe to avoid a new arms race with Russia following the demise of a key arms control agreement. 

The United States on Friday officially withdraw from the intermediate nuclear forces treaty, which was signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to end a Cold War arms race on the continent. In February, Washington had given Moscow six months to destroy the 9M729 missile it has said violates the agreement.

Moscow, which has accused Washington of seeking an excuse to free itself from the treaty limits, confirmed its own exit later on Friday. 

“bears sole responsibility” for the end of the treaty by developing a missile that threatens Europe, but promised that the alliance would not respond in kind.” data-reactid=”20″>Nato head Jens Stoltenberg told journalists in Brussels that Russia “bears sole responsibility” for the end of the treaty by developing a missile that threatens Europe, but promised that the alliance would not respond in kind.

“We will not mirror what Russia does,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “We don’t want a new arms race. And we have no intention to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.”

Instead, Nato will increase conventional weapons capabilities and reconnaissance. 

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted that the UK supported the Nato response to Russia’s “treaty-violating missile system which can target Europe’s capitals”.

The Russian foreign ministry on Friday called on the United States to not deploy medium-range missiles on land, again arguing that American missile defence launchers in Poland and Romania can fire such missiles in violation of the treaty.

Washington is now planning to test a land-based version of its medium-range Tomahawk cruise missile later this month and a medium-range ballistic missile in November. 

dismantling of the existing arms control system.”” data-reactid=”26″>“The United States has taken a course toward destroying all international agreements that don’t suit it for one reason or another,” the foreign ministry said. “This will essentially lead to the dismantling of the existing arms control system.”

Barack Obama’s administration first complained in 2014 that the 9M729 missile had a range of 1,500 kilometres, well within the 500- to 5,500-kilometre range banned by the treaty. Moscow claims the 9M729 only can fly 480 kilometres. 

Russia shows journalists and military attaches the 9M729 missile outside Moscow in January Credit: Pavel Golovkin/AP

Donald Trump ratcheted up the pressure last year by announcing that the US would withdraw from the agreement, sending national security advisor John Bolton, a long-time opponent of the INF, to Moscow to tell Vladimir Putin. Mr Trump has complained that other countries are racing ahead on developing medium-range missiles while America’s hands are tied. 

Angela Merkel later convinced him to provide a grace period for Russia to come back in compliance.

The United States and Russia now only have the New Start arms control treaty signed by Mr Obama and then-president Dmitry Medvedev, which is set to expire in 2021.