Russia May be Deploying Missile Tied to Treaty Violation

A Russian soldier guards a mock ballistic missile during a 2010 training exercise near Moscow. Russia may be deploying a cruise missile tied to its alleged breach of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, a U.S. expert said on Wednesday.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
July 31, 2014, 9:49 a.m.

A U.S. ana­lyst says Rus­sia may be put­ting a new type of mis­sile in­to launch-ready po­s­i­tion, des­pite its link to an in­tensi­fy­ing nuc­le­ar feud with Wash­ing­ton.

The coun­try’s de­fense min­istry last week pub­lished a pho­to­graph that ap­pears to show sol­diers hand­ling an Iskander-K cruise mis­sile can­is­ter at a base near Luga, about 75 miles from Es­to­nia, nuc­le­ar-arms ex­pert Hans Kristensen said in a Wed­nes­day as­sess­ment. The Rus­si­an im­age went pub­lic just days be­fore the United States form­ally ac­cused Mo­scow of break­ing a Cold War arms-con­trol treaty by test-fir­ing a ground-launched cruise mis­sile with com­par­able cap­ab­il­it­ies.

The U.S. State De­part­ment has not pub­licly named which mis­sile it be­lieves Rus­sia launched in vi­ol­a­tion of the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty, and Mo­scow has denied com­mit­ting any breach of the pact.

“News me­dia re­ports and oth­er in­form­a­tion in­dic­ate that the vi­ol­a­tion pos­sibly con­cerns the Iskander-K,” wrote Kristensen, who heads the Nuc­le­ar In­form­a­tion Pro­ject at the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ic­an Sci­ent­ists. Rus­sia already has de­ployed a short­er-range, bal­list­ic-mis­sile vari­ant of the weapon, called the Iskander-M.

Asked re­cently wheth­er Rus­sia is now also field­ing the Iskander-K, one seni­or gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial “did not want to say,” Kristensen wrote. The FAS ana­lyst ad­ded, though, that Mo­scow’s top de­fense of­fi­cial last year said the mil­it­ary had be­gun de­ploy­ing Iskander weapons in com­plete pack­ages, rather than in “piece­meal” form.

The vague com­ment by Rus­si­an De­fense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu “could in­dic­ate that the Iskander units are be­ing equipped with both the Iskander-M bal­list­ic mis­sile and Is­lander-K cruise mis­sile, and that Luga is the first west­ern mis­sile bri­gade to re­ceive them,” he wrote.

In his ana­lys­is, Kristensen joined oth­er arms-con­trol ad­voc­ates who cau­tioned Wash­ing­ton against pulling out of the mis­sile re­gime in re­sponse to the pos­sible vi­ol­a­tion.

What We're Following See More »
New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
4 hours ago

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Obama Library Heading to Jackson Park in Chicago
4 hours ago

"President Barack Obama has chosen Jackson Park, a lakefront park that once hosted the world’s fair on the city’s South Side, for his $500 million presidential library, according to a person familiar with the matter."

Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
5 hours ago

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

How Many VIPs Were the Secret Service Protecting in Philly Last Night?
6 hours ago

Seven, according to an official Secret Service tweet.

Candidates’ Code Names Revealed
7 hours ago

The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."