U.S. has offered to hold arms control talks with Russia - official

By Jonathan Landay WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has offered to hold arm control talks with Russia during a United Nations meeting in Beijing next week that almost certainly would include a feud over a Cold War-era treaty, a senior State Department official said on Thursday. Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson reiterated that the Trump administration will 'suspend our obligations' under the disputed pact if Russia fails to return to compliance by Feb. 2.

Reuters January 25, 2019 01:07:23 IST
U.S. has offered to hold arms control talks with Russia - official

US has offered to hold arms control talks with Russia  official

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has offered to hold arm control talks with Russia during a United Nations meeting in Beijing next week that almost certainly would include a feud over a Cold War-era treaty, a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson reiterated that the Trump administration will "suspend our obligations" under the disputed pact if Russia fails to return to compliance by Feb. 2. But the move is "reversible" and Washington has made no final decision on announcing a full U.S. withdrawal, she said.

"I'm not particularly optimistic" that Russia will return to compliance, she told reporters at a breakfast.

The dispute over the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has added to the gravest U.S.-Russia tensions since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Some experts fear that its demise could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.

Washington charges that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by deploying the ground-launched Novator 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile. The weapon exceeds the pact's range limit of 500-5,000 km (310-3,106 miles) and targets European allies, Washington contends.

To return to compliance with the treaty, Russia must destroy the missiles, three battalions of which have been deployed, Thompson said.

Russia rejects the U.S. allegations, and says the missile, designated the SSC-8 by NATO, complies with the pact. It accuses the United States of inventing a false pretext to leave an accord it wants to exit anyway to develop its own new missiles.

Thompson said that talks she held last week in Geneva with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made no headway toward resolving the dispute.

But, she added, she has offered to discuss with Ryabkov arms control issues that almost certainly would include the feud on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting on non-proliferation next week in Beijing.

"I've told the deputy foreign minister if and when it's appropriate and they have tangible next steps, that I'm willing to talk," Thompson said. "But to come to the table and hear the same story line from the past five years isn't a productive use of our time."

Thompson rejected the first unveiling in Moscow of the Novator for diplomats and journalists on Wednesday as proof that it complies with the INF Treaty.

"A static display of a missile cannot tell you how far a missile flies," she said.

The United States has presented Russia "time after time after time" with data showing that the missile flew more than the treaty's proscribed 500-km range during one of the tests conducted between 2008 and 2013, she said.

It also has presented Moscow with a plan for the "verifiable" destruction of the missile systems. Moscow has countered with its own unacceptable proposal for demonstrating the missile, she said.

"They would have controlled the environment," she said on the Russian plan. "When you go and select the missile and you select the fuel and you control all of those parameters, characteristics, you are controlling the outcome of the test."

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.