McKeon: U.S. Should Formally Protest Russian Arms Control Breach

U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), seen last month announcing his retirement from Congress. On Monday, the outgoing House Armed Services Committee chairman said the United States should formally protest a suspected Russian violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
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Rachel Oswald
Feb. 25, 2014, 3:33 a.m.

A lead­ing U.S. law­maker on de­fense is­sues said Wash­ing­ton should form­ally protest Mo­scow’s sus­pec­ted vi­ol­a­tion of an arms con­trol pact.

“I think that we should hold them ac­count­able” for break­ing the terms of the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty, said Rep­res­ent­at­ive Buck McK­eon (R-Cal­if.), the out­go­ing chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “They should know they are go­ing to be held ac­count­able.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has told its NATO al­lies that it is con­cerned about a seem­ing Rus­si­an con­tra­ven­tion of the bi­lat­er­al agree­ment, which pro­hib­its the United States and Rus­sia from de­vel­op­ing, test­ing or pos­sess­ing any bal­list­ic or cruise mis­sile with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. However, the U.S. gov­ern­ment to date has re­frained from mak­ing a form­al ac­cus­a­tion of a treaty vi­ol­a­tion.

Wash­ing­ton re­portedly is con­cerned about the Rus­si­an mil­it­ary’s tri­al launches of an un­spe­cified, new ground-fired cruise mis­sile in re­cent years.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of a lunch­eon at the Na­tion­al Press Club, McK­eon told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire that the United States should de­clare Mo­scow in ma­ter­i­al breach of the INF ac­cord, re­gard­less of con­cerns that do­ing so could prompt the Krem­lin to uni­lat­er­ally with­draw from the treaty.

“Why not? If we’re wor­ried of the rami­fic­a­tions of ac­cus­ing them of something we feel strongly that they’ve done, then why have a treaty?” he said. “If you have a treaty and you vi­ol­ate it then why would you start to talk about an­oth­er treaty or ex­pand­ing a treaty?”

Rus­sia in re­cent years has hin­ted it could pull out of the nuc­le­ar agree­ment as a re­sponse to evolving in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile threats in its re­gion.

At the same time, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has made known its de­sire to ini­ti­ate bi­lat­er­al arms-con­trol talks with Rus­sia on a new treaty that would re­duce each of the two former Cold War rivals’ ar­sen­als of de­ployed long-range nuc­le­ar weapons to ap­prox­im­ately 1,000 war­heads.

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