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Russia demands US destroy Tomahawk missile launchpads & attack drones to comply with nuclear treaty

A BGM-109G Tomahawk ground launched cruise missile (GLCM) and its launch canister are cut up in the foreground, while in the background, missiles, canisters and transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) are staged prior to being brought to the cutting area. Forty-one GLCMs and their launch canisters and seven TELs are being disposed of at the base in the first round of reductions mandated by the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (MSGT Jose Lopez Jr./U.S. Air Force)
February 07, 2019

In the latest U.S.-Russia spat, Russia has now accused the U.S. of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and Moscow has demanded it destroy Tomahawk missile launchpads and attack drones.

During a meeting between a U.S. diplomat and Russian Defense Ministry officials, Russia accused the U.S. of violating the treaty, and called on the U.S. to dismantle its attack drones and cruise missile launchpads in order to comply with the treaty, RT reported Thursday.

The news reportedly came in a memo from Russia to the U.S., which officials handed over to a U.S. diplomat on Thursday.

The memo told the U.S. that it must “return to strict compliance” with the treaty, by “destroy[ing] its MK-41 universal launchers, designed for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles and target missiles,” RT reported.

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The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly stated that Tomahawk missiles and target missiles are prohibited under the INF’s specifications of medium- and short-range ballistic missiles. Additionally, they declared attack drones as equivalent to land-based cruise missiles under the treaty’s terms.

“Despite the openness of the Russian Defence Ministry to a substantive dialogue on the parties’ fulfilment of their obligations under the INF Treaty, the United States has not provided any evidence to support their stated position. At the same time, the United States has not taken the required action to eliminate the breach of its own obligations under the treaty”, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, according to Sputnik News.

The news follows remarks made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov at a press conference on Thursday, during which he said Russia is prepared to hold constructive discussions with the U.S.

“Amid new threats created by Washington, we will definitely take comprehensive measures to provide our own security,” Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “However, if the U.S. revisits its destructive course and returns to commitment to the INF Treaty, Russia is open for a meaningful dialogue.”

He added that Russia is awaiting official proposals from the U.S. on renewing the INF Treaty, which “should involve other countries as participants.”

“As soon as our U.S. colleagues are ready to hand over to us something like this in practical terms, we will certainly consider this with interest and I hope in a positive way,” Ryabkov added.

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Last week, the U.S. announced the decision to withdraw from the 1987 treaty, citing Russia’s continued violations. Russia later also said it would withdraw from the treaty, and it also expressed its desire to create new missile systems.

“Russia remains in material breach of its treaty obligations not to produce, possess, or flight test a ground-launched intermediate cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5500 kilometers,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had explained.

The announcement came at the end of a 60-day deadline the U.S. provided to Russia to return to compliance with the treaty. Now that the U.S. has announced its intent to withdraw, a six-month period must pass before the treaty is dissolved.

Although Russia has denied violating the treaty, both U.S. and Russian officials expressed a desire to hold negotiations and preserve the agreement.