Farewell to the INF-Treaty (III)

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) - The EU and NATO are using dramatic appeals to try to shift the blame for the abrogation of the INF-Treaty to Russia. In the upcoming days, Moscow must take "substantial actions" to preserve the disarmament treaty" in the last minute, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Federica Mogherini, proclaimed. Otherwise it would bear "sole responsibility" for new armament measures flanked by growing insecurity, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The NATO states' allegation that Russia had violated the treaty has not been proven; on the other hand, the Trump administration has admitted that it had been working on the development of new ground-launched intermediate-range missiles for more than eighteen months. Their deployment is prohibited under the INF-Treaty. EU arms manufacturers are participating in the production of these US-missiles, with contracts worth millions of dollars. The nominee for Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff is in favor of deploying new intermediate-range missiles against China.

The Danger of War is growing

The ultimate end of the INF-Treaty is imminent. Signed by Moscow and Washington on December 8, 1987, it provided for the complete disarmament of all ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. On February 1, the Trump administration confirmed its withdrawal from the treaty, which will take effect on August 2, after the six-month deadline, provided for by the treaty has expired. In reaction, Russia announced on February 2, it would follow suit and in turn suspended the treaty on July 3. This means that one of the most important disarmament treaties of our time is coming to an end. Washington and Moscow may again produce and test not only conventional, but also nuclear intermediate-range missiles and deploy them, in principle, also in Europe. The danger of war is again growing in this country.

"Moscow Solely Responsible"

This is also why the EU and NATO are seeking to shift the blame to Russia for breaching the INF Treaty. Officially, the USA justified its withdrawal by claiming Moscow produced and deployed intermediate-range missiles in violation of the treaty, but it has so far failed to produce any evidence supporting these grave allegations. The Trump administration asserts, it is in possession of clear intelligence information, however, neither its existence nor its validity can be verified. Experts, on the other hand, concede that Russia's accusations are correct and that, in principle, and with minimum effort, the US Armed Forces could use their missile defense systems in Romania and Poland as launching pads for intermediate-range missiles. They could possibly only need to install new software. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]). By constantly repeating their accusations against Russia, the EU and NATO are seeking to cover up the West's lack of supporting arguments for its position. Last weekend, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Federica Mogherini, called on Moscow to take "substantial and transparent actions" to refute western allegations.[2] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Moscow to "use the last chance to keep the INF treaty alive". "Otherwise," Stoltenberg wrote in a signed article in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, "it would bear sole responsibility for the demise of the treaty."[3]

New Intermediate Range Weapons

Stoltenberg's accusations are all the more surprising, after the Trump Administration has admitted to having initiated its own development of new ground-launched intermediate range missiles, and that this activity had been initiated already at the end of 2017.[4] According to research undertaken by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Pentagon had begun, in October 2018, to award contracts worth more than US $1.1 billion in the context of the development and construction of missiles. How much was dedicated to the new intermediate range missiles is not quite clear. The main contracts went to the US companies Raytheon (US $536.8 million), Lockheed Martin (US $267.6 million) and Boeing (US $244.7 million), with BAE Systems from the United Kingdom (US $47.7 million) and Thales from France (US $16. 2 million) also landing contracts.[5] In March, the Pentagon confirmed it will begin fabricating components for new ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) systems.[6]

Plans for Missiles in Europe

What this will mean for Europe is still unclear. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg has repeatedly insisted that there is "no intention" to station nuclear armed intermediate range missiles on the European continent. However, Stoltenberg's formulation does not rule out the possibility of stationing conventional missiles. Besides, NATO's Secretary General has confirmed at the end of June that the war alliance is considering stationing new defense systems to counter Russian intermediate range missiles.[7] According to US media, in principle, the expansion of the current missile defense sites in Romania and Poland is in consideration. This, however is problematic in two aspects, it is reported, with reference to European NATO functionaries. On the one hand, contrary to what has been claimed, this is quasi an admission that the current missile defense systems are not aimed at Iranian, but at Russian missiles. And on the other, their locations in Romania and Poland are too close to Russia's borders - for optimal interception of intermediate range missiles.[8] Thus, countries further to the west are considered the best sites. Initial decisions are expected to be taken at NATO's Defense Ministers' Conference in October or at the NATO Summit in London in December.

China's Defense Strategy

In addition, it is becoming clearer that the Trump administration is mainly considering stationing new intermediate range missiles in East and Southeast Asia. China relies on conventional intermediate range missiles to ward off eventual maritime attacks. These missiles are thought to be reliable for neutralizing the warships - particularly aircraft carriers - of potential aggressors and, at such a distance from China's shores that they are unable to strike China's eastern and southern cities.[9] In the meantime, the People's Republic of China has amassed a large number of intermediate range missiles - including the well-known DF-21D anti-ship missiles. In its quest for possibilities for disabling Chinas defense missiles, to be able to carry out its own aggressions, Washington has been increasingly discussing recourse to ground-launched intermediate weapons, stationed on allied territory, such as Japan, to be able to open fire on China from there. Of course, the abrogation of the INF Treaty is a prerequisite.

Against Beijing

Last week, General Mark A. Milley, US President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed Gerneral Joseph F. Dunford as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was confronted with questions about the conflict between the USA and China, during his questioning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I think China is the primary challenge to the US national security over the next 50-100 years," Milley predicted.[10] To the question, if he thinks conventionally armed ground-launched intermediate-range missiles would be "helpful" in countering Beijing's rising assertiveness, Milley responded "I do."


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[1] See also Abschied vom INF-Vertrag and Farewell to the INF Treaty (II).

[2] "Letzte Chance" für den INF-Vertrag. dw.com 14.07.2019.

[3] Jens Stoltenberg: Europas Sicherheit steht auf dem Spiel. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.07.2019.

[4] Steve Trimble: U.S. To Revive GLCM Fabrication Before INF Treaty Withdrawal. aviationweek.com 08.03.2019.

[5] Nina Larson: Missile contracts surge as US exits arms treaty: study. AFP 02.05.2019.

[6] Steve Trimble: U.S. To Revive GLCM Fabrication Before INF Treaty Withdrawal. aviationweek.com 08.03.2019.

[7] Conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Brussels Forum. nato.int 27.06.2019.

[8] Julian E. Barnes: NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia. nytimes.com 05.07.2019.

[9] See also Ein Alptraumszenario für China.

[10] Jessie Yeoung: China will be US military's 'primary challenge' for decades, says top general. edition.cnn.com 12.07.2019.

[11] Trump's military pick eyes deploying midrange missiles to Pacific. mainichi.jp 12.07.2019.