In 1987, the United States and the then Soviet Union signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which required both countries to completely dismantle all of their ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles – nuclear or conventional armed – that had a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
No other nuclear power – not China, not India, not Pakistan, nor anyone else – was included in the treaty. However, it did at least require the Soviet Union to verifiably dismantle its medium-range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.
However, since Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, Moscow has repeatedly violated the INF treaty.
It has tested and deployed the R-500 ground-launched (and nuclear-capable) cruise missile, which has a range within INF treaty limits, and last month, it tested a “missile defense killer” Rubezh/Yars-M “pseudo-ICBM” at a range of just 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) – again within INF treaty limits. This means it’s an intermediate-range missile, prohibited by the INF treaty.
The treaty, ratified in 1988 by both sides, completely prohibits any development or testing, let alone procurement or deployment, of ground-launched missiles of such range (between 500 and 5,500 kilometers).
The test occurred on June 6th and was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon the next day. The Rubezh IRBM was launched from a missile base at Kapustin Yar and impacted a test target at the Sary-Shagan range, about 2,000 kms (1,242 miles) away. This is INF Treaty range.
Again, it bears repeating: even the development or testing, let alone the production or deployment, of such missiles is completely prohibited by the INF treaty.
The fact that the test occurred at a 2,000 km range was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, a veteran national security journalist, and confirmed by US intelligence officials as well as nuclear weapons expert Dr. Mark B. Schneider of the National Institute for Public Policy. Dr Schneider has been warning about Russian violations of arms reduction treaties for years.
Schneider has also warned that Russia’s air and missile defense missiles could be used as medium-range surface-to-surface missiles, and so could be the first stage of the SS-27 ICBM – as a stand-alone missile, it would have a 3,000 km range, clearly within INF treaty limits.
Also, the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, Reps. Howard McKeon (R-CA) and Mike Rogers (R-MI), respectively, and chairman of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), have been warning about Russian violations of such treaties for at least a year now.
The confirmation of Russia’s repeated violations of the INF treaty by the WFB and US intel officials confirms the soundness of their warnings.
Accordingly, the chairmen, not wishing to see America’s nuclear deterrent cut unilaterally, or in a worthless treaty with an untrustworthy partner who violates his obligations, have introduced amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization and Energy Appropriations bills that would prohibit ANY further reductions to America’s nuclear deterrent, except through a treaty or an Act of Congress itself.
American and foreign pacifist saboteurs, however, are not giving up. Desiring to see America disarmed, they continue to lie on Russia’s and Obama’s behalf, advocating for even deeper cuts than those Obama has proposed, and are whitewashing Russia to absolve it of its blatant violations of arms limitation treaties, including the INF treaty.
FAS’s Hans M. Kristensen, a Danish pacifist now living in the US, has recently written a FAS blogpost lying about the June 6th missile test, falsely claiming that the missile traversed over 5,500 kms, outside INF treaty range. He claims that the Washington Free Beacon and Dr Schneider merely “claim” the Russians have violated the treaty.
But, as US intel community officials have confirmed, the test actually occurred at a 2,000 km range, from Kapustin Yar to Sary-Shagan, meaning the test WAS a violation of the treaty.
By denying that a violation occurred, Kristensen is essentially accusing these officials, as well as the three House committee chairman (who have access to classified information, whereas Kristensen doesn’t and never will), and the WFB’s Bill Gertz of lying.
But why would Bill Gertz – a reputed journalist who has been covering national security issues for almost 3 decades – lie? And has anyone found even one instance in his long journalist career in which he lied?
On the other hand, Kristensen – a lifelong Danish pacifist whose explicitly stated agenda is to see the US give up its nuclear weapons – has a motive to lie, and indeed has repeatedly been caught lying, over and over again.
Kristensen is nothing but another anti-American, pro-Russian Danish pacifist propagandist. He’s been working for pacifist, anti-nuclear organizations since being 21 years old. He has no credibility and no integrity whatsoever.
Moreover, this is not the first time when Kristensen has (implicitly or explicitly) accused of lying people who are far more credible than he is. Not so long ago, he accused the commander of the USAF’s nuclear forces of hiding America’s nuclear modernization programs from PDF slides, even though these programs were all listed in one of the slides.
In short, Kristensen is a lying, dishonest, pro-Russian pacifist propagandist. Not one word he says is credible.
As for Russia’s recent missile test, the matter is quite simple. If the test did occur at a 2,000 km range, it WAS a clear violation of the INF treaty. If it occurred at a range of more than 5,500 kms, a violation did not occur.
US intel officials, Dr. Schneider, and the WFB’s Bill Gertz say the test did occur at a 2,000 km range.
Hans Kristensen denies that.
Whom will you believe?
UPDATE: The State Department’s annual arms control treaty compliance report completely omits – but does not deny – Russia’s violation of the INF treaty by testing that Yars-M (Rubezh) missile. Meanwhile, McKeon and Rogers continue to protest against further nuclear arms cuts and to criticize Russia for its noncompliance. They say the Obama administration has never addressed their concerns – neither publicly nor privately. Bill Gertz says more on that here.