The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Russia’s apparent violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty could thrust relations with the former Soviet Union back toward the Cold War era.
The New York Times cited anonymous U.S. officials as saying Russia has been testing medium-range nuclear missiles since 2008. Washington has reportedly brought up the issue with Russia several times and is now taking its concerns over compliance to NATO.
“News reports indicating Russia is in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are deeply troubling. The signing of that treaty in 1987 by President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev, marked an historic turning point in the Cold War, and stood as the pillar of our post-Cold War relations with Russia,” said Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).
“Over the past year I have met with intelligence and policy officials to assess the intelligence surrounding the apparent Russian violation, and to urge the Administration to strongly confront the Russians and to keep our Allies informed. Russia has been pursuing a troubling and aggressive ramp up of military and intelligence capabilities in recent years,” Rogers continued. “The apparent violation of this treaty would put our allies at risk and be a major step backward in our post-Cold War relations.”
If found to be in violation, the congressman said, “Russia must immediately bring itself back into full compliance.”
“The INF Treaty currently limits the United States from developing certain options to deal with terrorists and rogue states; we should not be unilaterally bound by any treaty,” he said.
“The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence continues to carefully monitor intelligence regarding Russian compliance with the INF Treaty.”
The report would mean that Russia was testing the ground-launched cruise missile in potential defiance of the treaty when Obama lobbied the Senate hard to ratify the New START Treaty in 2009 despite lawmakers’ concerns about Russia and the administration’s attitude toward the U.S. stockpile.
Lawmakers in both chambers have spent much energy since the suspicions came to light in 2012 pressing the administration on why it wasn’t taking the apparent violations more seriously.
“Since October, we have written to you twice with our concerns about a massive Russian violation and circumvention of an arms control obligation to the United States of great significance to this nation and to its NATO allies,” Rogers and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) wrote in an April letter to Obama. “Briefings provided by your administration have agreed with your assessment that Russian actions are serious and troubling, but have failed to offer any assurance of any concrete action to address these Russian actions.”
A November article in Pravda claims that the Russian Foreign Ministry “notified the Americans in accordance with adequate procedures” before the test of the RS-26, an ICBM that has also been tested at medium range.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called the missile a “killer of U.S. missile defense.”