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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia will easily make, deploy new defensive missiles if US ditches INF: Putin

Iran Press TV

Tue Dec 18, 2018 03:35PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country can easily develop and deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles if the United States carries out a threat to withdraw from the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

"As you know, we do have sea and airborne [missile] systems and there will be no difficulty to carry out research-and-development and make them land-based if needed," The Russian leader said at a Russian Defense Ministry conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

Putin also warned that Washington's decision to pull out of the milestone pact "is one step towards an arms race."

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF, which was signed towards the end of Cold War in 1987 by then President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev said at the time that US decision to ditch the Cold War-era nuclear weapons agreement with Russia could lead to the collapse of the current non-proliferation mechanism.

The treaty banned all land-based missiles with ranges of 310 to 3,420 miles and included missiles carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads. The original ban between Moscow and Washington led to the elimination of 2,692 missiles.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin said that Russia's "successes" in developing sea- and air-launched missiles became a source of concern for "our partners," prompting them to undermine the pact.

Over the past months, the White House has been repeatedly accusing the Kremlin of violating the INF. Moscow, for its part, strongly rejected such allegations, calling them unfounded.

Putin also stressed that Washington was violating the INF directly, as it was actively building up Aegis Ashore facilities in Romania and Poland. Furthermore, there are strike drones in the American military arsenals whose properties fall under the pact, he added.

"They blatantly violate it and make hypothetical, unfounded claims against us," he said.

The Russian leader also reiterated that Moscow did not violate the INF, but if Washington ditches it, Russia would be left with no choice but "to react accordingly" to defend itself.

He also warned that the US decision, which may even "ruin" arms control system, "causes serious concern" and might have "very negative consequences and will noticeably weaken regional and global security."

The Cold War-era treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles, has also come into question against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the West and Russia.

Putin's remarks came as Moscow's relations with the West remain tense over the Ukrainian crisis, the foreign-sponsored war in Syria and the allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential poll in 2016.

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