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Estonian formin: INF Treaty mainly meant to ensure Europe's security

BC, Tallinn, 24.10.2018.Print version
The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the United States intends to withdraw from, is in particular meant to ensure the security of Europe, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said in the Aktuaalne Kaamera newscast of public broadcaster ERR Tuesday evening, referred LETA/BNS.

In his interview with Aktuaalne Kaamera, Mikser said that the United States has been saying for several years that Russia is breaking the INF Treaty by developing systems that have been prohibited. On the other hand, the United States sees the treaty as restrictive as since it was signed 31 years ago, the number of states which have the capability of developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles has increased.

"The INF Treaty is to this day a bilateral agreement, signed between the United States and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of which the Russian Federation is the successor," the foreign minister said.

Mikser pointed out that a new agreement needs to be signed if this one expires to avoid a situation where an arms race starts again. "As we know, START III (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which restricts the use of strategic missiles, including nuclear warheads, expires in a few years, too," he said, adding that a new treaty, if it is entered into, needs to include all parties capable of developing, using and positioning such systems.

The foreign minister also said that the INF Treaty was first and foremost intended to ensure security in Europe. "While strategic weapons systems mutually threaten the United States and Russia, intermediate range and short-range missiles from Russia reach no further than Alaska on the American soil; however, virtually all targets in Europe remain within the range. Therefore, Europe's concern over the possibility of arms control crumbling away is understandable," Mikser said.  

The INF Treaty eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–5,500 kilometers. By June 1, 1991, all existing weapons had to be eliminated.

The United States announced that the cruise missile Novator 9M729, which carries the NATO designation of SSC-8 and is situated in mainland Russia, violates the INF Treaty. Washington said that the missile enables Russia to initiate a nuclear attack on Europe with virtually no warning. 

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that the United States will withdraw from the treaty.

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