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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


RS-26 Rubezh / Avangard - Western Views

In 2013, a senior Russian administration official stated publicly that the world had changed since the INF Treaty was signed. In addition, Russian officials have made statements in the past complaining that the treaty prohibits Russia, but not some of its neighbors, from developing and possessing ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The Americans regularly tested elements of their missile defense system at the Kwajalein atoll in the Pacific. The target missiles used during these tests are equipped with engines from intermediate-range missiles. This has been pointed out on several occasions by Maj. Gen. Midykhat Vildanov, professor at the Academy of Military Sciences and one of Russia's most respected specialists on strategic weapons systems. In an article published in the Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozreniye (Independent Military Review) journal in July 2013, he accused the Pentagon of violating the INF Treaty. More specifically, Prof. Vildanov insists that during the tests of their interceptors, the Americans use target missiles that have a range of over 1,000 km (1,200 km for HERA; 2,000 km for LRALT; and up to 1,100 km for MRT missiles). The Russian Foreign Ministry complained about this back in January 2001, and again in August 2010, but met with no response from Washington. Meanwhile, the Russian MoD denies the charges of violating the INF Treaty leveled at Moscow by the American press.

Bill Gertz's "Russian Aggression: Putin Violating Nuclear Missile Treaty" in the June 25, 2013 Washington Free Beacon - asserted that the Yars-M/RS-26 was a violation of the INF Treaty because it had been tested to a range of 2000 kilometers, whereas the INF Treaty bans all ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers. The Yars-M/RS-26, however, had also been tested to a range of 5800 kilometers.

The 2010 New START Treaty, as the 1991 START I Treaty, defines an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as "a land-based missile with a range in excess of 5500 kilometers", while the INF Treaty bans ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges "in excess of 500 kilometers" but "not in excess of 5500 kilometers." One assessment was that, because the Yars-M/RS-26 had flown in excess of 5500 kilometers, it was a permitted ICBM, not a ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile.

On 17 July 2014, Ambassador Steven Pifer, director of Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at The Brookings Institute, testified before the House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, that "Assertions that the Russian RS-26 ballistic missile violates the treaty appear to have no basis. Under the definitions of the START [Strategic Arms Reduction] Treaty, the New START Treaty, and the INF Treaty, the RS-26 is a permitted, but limited, ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile].... if the Russians were to deploy the RS-26 in Irkutsk, first of all it would be an ICBM because it was tested in excess of 5,500 kilometers. That could not reach the United States. But certainly I think a deployment in Irkutsk would suggest very clearly that it is aimed at China, and ought to be a concern first and foremost to the Chinese."

Stephen G. Rademaker, National Security Project Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center, testified that "Apparently what we know is that they did fire that missile to a range of 5,800 kilometers, which is in excess of the 5,500 kilometer INF range. But I don't feel that I know enough about the nature of that test to be able to say whether that turns it into an ICBM."

Jim Thomas, Vice President and Director of Studies, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, testified that "The development of systems such as the RS-26 at the seam between the INF Treaty and New START should be of concern to the United States and its allies. Ballistic missiles launched from Russia would obviously have shorter time of flight to targets in Europe than in North America thereby reducing warning time and the opportunities to engage them, which would diminish strategic stability. If Russia does indeed deploy intermediate-range missiles to operating areas from which they could range China, it would suggest it views the PRC as a military threat. This is likely only one of a variety of factors that would weigh in any Russian decision to exit the treaty, which suggests U.S. missile defense deployments are possibly a pretext more than a reason for Russian dissatisfaction with the Treaty."

Under H.R.1182 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017, (Introduced 02/16/2017) the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, was required to conduct a review of the RS-26 ballistic missile of the Russian Federation. Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the review. The report shall include a determination whether the RS-26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty or is a violation of the INF Treaty because Russia has flight-tested such missile to ranges covered by the INF Treaty in more than one warhead configuration; and if the Secretary determines that the RS-26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty, a determination whether the Russian Federation has agreed through the Bilateral Consultative Commission that such a system is limited under the New START Treaty central limits; and has agreed to an exhibition of such a system.

If the Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, determines that the RS-26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty and that the Russian Federation has not taken these steps, the United States Government shall consider for purposes of all policies and decisions that the RS-26 ballistic missile of the Russian Federation is a violation of the INF Treaty.

On 12 December 2017 Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 2810, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.” The Signing Statement noted that "Section 1245 purports to direct the United States Government to consider the RS-26 ballistic missile to be a breach of the INF Treaty “for purposes of all policies and decisions,” if the President, with the concurrence of certain other executive branch officials, were to make certain legal and factual determinations. My Administration will apply this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to identify breaches of international agreements by counterparties."

The FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included language:

"SEC. 1247. REVIEW OF RS–26 BALLISTIC MISSILE.

(a) In General.—The President, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of National Intelligence, shall conduct a review of the RS–26 ballistic missile of the Russian Federation.

(b) Report Required.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the review conducted under subsection (a). The report shall include—

(1) a determination whether the RS–26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty or would be a violation of the INF Treaty because Russia has flight-tested such missile to ranges covered by the INF Treaty in more than one warhead configuration; and

(2) if the President determines that the RS–26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty, a determination whether the Russian Federation—

(A) has agreed through the Bilateral Consultative Commission that such a system is limited under the New START Treaty central limits; and

(B) has agreed to an exhibition of such a system.

(c) Effect Of Determination.—If the President, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of National Intelligence, determines that the RS–26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty and that the Russian Federation has not taken the steps described under subsection (b)(2), the United States Government shall consider for purposes of all policies and decisions that the RS–26 ballistic missile of the Russian Federation is a violation of the INF Treaty. "




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