Republicans Urge Obama to Rebuke Russia for Alleged Treaty Breach

A Russian SS-20 Saber missile is shown on display at the Museum of Great Patriotic War. The weapon was withdrawn from service under the requirements of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Some senior Republicans are urging that the United States act against Russia for testing a new cruise missile in possible violation of the accord.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
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Rachel Oswald
Feb. 7, 2014, 9:35 a.m.

Sev­er­al seni­or House Re­pub­lic­ans are call­ing on the White House to pen­al­ize Rus­sia over its al­leged vi­ol­a­tions of a nuc­le­ar-re­lated arms con­trol ac­cord.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently ad­mit­ted to hav­ing con­cerns about Mo­scow’s com­pli­ance with the bi­lat­er­al 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty. However, the gov­ern­ment to date has not form­ally ac­cused Rus­sia of be­ing in breach of the agree­ment.

In a Thursday let­ter, a trio of GOP com­mit­tee heads urged Pres­id­ent Obama to take un­spe­cified ac­tion on the mat­ter, warn­ing that fail­ing to do so “would only in­vite fur­ther vi­ol­a­tions by Rus­sia.”

The In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty pro­hib­its the United States and Rus­sia from pro­du­cing, test­ing or pos­sess­ing cruise or bal­list­ic mis­siles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. The Rus­si­an mil­it­ary’s re­por­ted test­ing of a new ground-based cruise mis­sile since roughly 2008 is be­lieved to be the source of U.S. con­cern, though the spe­cif­ic weapon and its cap­ab­il­it­ies are not yet pub­licly known.

“We be­lieve it is im­per­at­ive that Rus­si­an of­fi­cials not be per­mit­ted to be­lieve they stand to gain from a ma­ter­i­al breach of this or any oth­er treaty,” said House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Buck McK­eon (R-Cal­if.), House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce (R-Cal­if.) and House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Ro­gers (R-Mich.).

The law­makers said the tim­ing of the al­leged treaty vi­ol­a­tions is im­port­ant, giv­en the United States and oth­er world powers’ on­go­ing ne­go­ti­ations with Ir­an over its nuc­le­ar pro­gram.

“Oth­er coun­tries around the world will be closely watch­ing the U.S. re­sponse to any Rus­si­an vi­ol­a­tion,” they said.

Asked to re­spond to the Re­pub­lic­an let­ter, a White House of­fi­cial on Fri­day told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire: “We have con­cerns about Rus­si­an com­pli­ance with the treaty. We have raised them with Rus­sia and are press­ing for clear an­swers in an ef­fort to re­solve our con­cerns.”

The of­fi­cial asked not to be named in this art­icle, cit­ing the sens­it­iv­ity of the mat­ter.

NATO has been up­dated about the U.S. con­cerns, the of­fi­cial said, adding, “We’re not go­ing to drop the is­sue un­til our con­cerns have been ad­dressed.”

Mo­scow mul­tiple times pre­vi­ously has hin­ted it could with­draw from the 1987 ac­cord, evid­ently be­cause of po­ten­tial threats that lie with­in range of what the treaty cov­ers. A num­ber of coun­tries in Rus­sia’s re­gion of the world have nuc­le­ar weapons, in­clud­ing China, or are on the verge of ac­quir­ing them, such as North Korea.

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