Tag Archives: ballistic missile

New global arms race

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, geopolitician OPINION  The United States, less than a month after its effective retreat on 02 August from the INF intermediate-range missile treaty signed in 1987 (from 500 to 5.500 km), fired an intermediate-range missile off California on August 19 to test this new weapon previously prohibited by the treaty. This new conventional missile is also likely to carry a nuclear warhead. Russia has also permanently withdrawn from the INF Treaty as a reaction to the US decision.

This missile fire reveals the following reality: To be able to launch a new missile, a month after the treaty was released, the United States had begun research on the development of a new intermediate missile, at a time when this type of missile was still banned.

It is surprising that no European member of the EU or NATO has ever stressed this aspect of the INF withdrawal. This way of proceeding reinforces the thesis of those who accuse the United States of having used the pretext of a supposed non respect of the INF treaty by Russia to develop their own missile. Moreover, by unilaterally leaving the treaty, the United States loses a means of pressure against Russia. China, which has not signed any treaty on intermediate-range missiles, is also the target of the United States seeking to maintain its strategic supremacy in Eurasia, from Lisbon to Beijing. China has so far refused to enter into negotiations on a new, larger treaty promoted by the United States that uses escalation as a means of pressure.

As a maritime power unparalleled in the world, the United States is already capable of firing medium-range missiles at Russian and Chinese territories from the sea, while Russia and China, primarily continental powers whose priority is the safety of their terrestrial environment, have so far developed less maritime capacity since their priority is the safety of their terrestrial environment as mainly continental powers. Since maritime capabilities (missiles aboard surface ships, submarines or aircraft) have never been incorporated into the INF Treaty dealing with ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles, an asymmetry has always existed in favor of the United States.

It should also be noted that the security environments of the United States and Russia are not comparable. The question of the geographical position of the territories of the United States and Russia is a central element to understand that we can not simply reason in terms of equivalence of armaments. Russia is surrounded in its geographical environment close to many states with increased ballistic capacity.

The territory of Russia is therefore located in a difficult strategic environment in contact with nuclear powers like China and geopolitical rivalries such as the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Far East, while the United States have for neighbors Canada and Mexico. The production by the United States of new missiles in response to the alleged non respect of the agreements by the Russians and the deployment of Chinese missiles does not bring a gain of security to the United States, surrounded by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It has no deterrent effect on either Russia or China which must position themselves against other threats from the Eurasian continent. This decision even provides an incentive for the Russians and Chinese to strengthen their own arsenal.

After unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US INF Treaty in 2019, the United States also stressed that the 2021 renewal of a nuclear arms reduction treaty, Start II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in 2012) would not be automatically renewed.

Russia had proposed before the US withdrawal a “moratorium on the deployment of intermediate range weapons”, rejected by NATO. NATO, however, has said it does not want to embark on an arms race and so far refuses the prospect of installing new missiles on European soil.

However, this position is precarious by the risk of escalation between the United States, Russia and China that would make Europeans the losers of a new arms race. The idea of ​​a new European security architecture from Lisbon to Vladivostok becomes even more relevant. Indeed, only a continental negotiation including Russia is likely to restore confidence and more control on this new arms race on intermediate-range missiles that makes no sense for the geopolitical interests of European nations.

INF: Moscow in reciprocity mode

Russia will not deploy new missiles as long as the United States shows similar restraint in Europe and Asia, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on August 18, reacting upon Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.

Washington announced the decision to formally leave the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia earlier this month after accusing Moscow of violating the Soviet-era treaty and deploying one banned type of missile, allegations the Kremlin has firmly denied.

Subsequently Russia has also left the INF, but Shoigu explained it had no plans to deploy new missiles.

AMENDED:

“We still stick to that. Unless there are such systems in Europe (deployed by Washington), we won’t do anything there,” he told the Rossiya-24 TV channel, according to Interfax news agency.

The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Russia ready to prolong START nuclear treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he informed U.S. President Donald Trump about Russia readiness to extend the New START nuclear treaty expiring in 2021.

“I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first, because we have some questions to our American partners,” Putin told Fox News in an interview after Helsinki summit with Trump.

The New START treaty, signed on April 8, 2010, agrees for deployable nuclear warheads and bombs to be capped at no more than 1,550. It limits deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers to 700 and non-deployed ICBMs, SLBM and bombers to 800.

The treaty lasts for 10 years and can be extended by up to five years. The New START treaty gave both countries until February this year to reach the treaty limits.

Washington warns North Korea of "utterly" destruction

The United States warned North Korea’s leadership it would be “utterly destroyed” in case of war break out after Pyongyang again launched this time its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The Trump administration has repeatedly stated all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option.

 

Speaking at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States had never sought war with North Korea.

“If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday,” she said. “…and if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

Haley said the United States has asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing – the North’s neighbour and sole major trading partner – has so far refrained from doing. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone earlier on this week.

DPRK must abandon ballistic missile programme

“Today’s missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a further unacceptable violation of the DPRK’s international obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions” – says the statement of the European External Action Service.

“Following repeated calls of the entire international community, including by the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on 21 November 2017, this launch represents a further grave provocation, and a serious threat to international security.”

“The European Union’s message is unequivocal: the DPRK must abandon its nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, immediately cease all related activities and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA Safeguards.”

“The EU sanctions’ regime towards the DPRK is currently the most restrictive in operation. On 16 October EU Foreign Ministers adopted yet a further package of additional EU autonomous measures that go beyond those decided by the United Nations.”

“The DPRK must engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue, aimed at pursuing the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

Iran to continue missiles production

Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense, because it does not consider that a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

“We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,” Rouhani said in a speech in parliament.

The United States has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, that calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles.

EU mounting pressure on North Korea

Given the persistent threat to international peace and stability posed by the DPRK, the Council adopted new EU autonomous measures to further increase the pressure on the DPRK to comply with its obligations. The measures complement and reinforce the UN Security Council sanctions. They take effect immediately.

The new measures include:

  • total ban on EU investment in the DPRK, in all sectors. The ban was previously limited to investment in the nuclear and conventional arms-related industry, in the sectors of mining, refining and chemical industries, metallurgy and metalworking and aerospace;
  • total ban on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil to the DPRK. These exports were subject to certain limitations under the UN Security Council resolution of 11 September;
  • lowering the amount of personal remittancestransferred to the DPRK from € 15 000 to € 5 000; as they are suspected of being used to support the country’s illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

In addition, with a view to eliminating remittances to the DPRK, member states agreed not to renew work authorisations for DPRK nationals present on their territory, except for refugees and other persons benefiting from international protection.

The Council also added three persons and six entities supporting the illicit programmes to the lists of those subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions. This brings the total number under restrictive measures against the DPRK  as designated by the EU autonomously to 41 individuals and 10 entities. In addition, 63 individuals and 53 entities are listed by the UN.

Ministers also agreed to actively lobby for a robust implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions by all UN member states.

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