NATO demands Russia keep to missile treaty

29 November 2018 18:56 Australia Desk

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told Russia to comply 'without delay' on a missile treaty signed in 1987.

Moscow must fully comply, "without delay," with a Russia-US nuclear missile treaty, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says, noting that Russia's new intermediate-range missile places the agreement in "serious jeopardy."

The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987, bans nuclear-armed missiles with a range of up to 5500km.

The deal has formed the basis of Europe's security architecture, curbing the risk of nuclear attack.

However, the US accuses Russia of breaching the deal with its Novator 9M729 cruise missile, known also as the SSC-8, unveiled earlier this year. US President Donald Trump threatened last month to pull out of the treaty.

NATO has also been warning Russia about the new missile.

"The SSC-8 is mobile and easy to hide. It is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It reduces warning times to minutes, lowering the threshold for nuclear conflict. And it can reach European capitals," the NATO chief wrote on Thursday in the Italian daily La Republicca and Spain's El Pais.

"Russia's actions undermine the INF Treaty, placing it in serious jeopardy," Stoltenberg added, noting that Washington is in "full compliance."

The issue is expected to feature at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers next week.

"A treaty that is respected by only one side ... will not keep us safe," Stoltenberg added. "If a treaty no longer affects the reality on the ground, then it is nothing more than a piece of paper."

"NATO must be firm and predictable," the NATO chief wrote, without specifying possible countermeasures. "If we want to avoid nuclear weapons, we need to make sure that our conventional deterrence and defence is strong." He previously said allies were unlikely to station more nuclear weapons in Europe.

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