U.S. general says Russia deploys cruise missile, threatens NATO

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2017 11:33 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has deployed a land-based cruise missile that violates the "spirit and intent" of an arms control treaty and poses a threat to NATO, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva said on Wednesday.

It was the first public U.S. accusation of the deployment after reports said last month that Russia had secretly deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile that Moscow has been developing and testing for several years, despite U.S. complaints that it violated sections of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

"The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility," Selva said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. He did not say if the missile carried a nuclear weapon.

Selva said the United States had brought up the issue with Russia. He did not say what options were being considered if the discussions did not lead to results, but added that "we have been asked to incorporate a set of options into the nuclear posture review."

In 2014, the United States made a similar accusation. The State Department concluded in an control report that Russia was in violation of its obligations under the INF treaty.

Russia accused Washington of conducting "megaphone diplomacy" after the accusation was repeated by the State Department in 2015. Moscow also denied it had violated the treaty, which helped end the Cold War.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alistair Bell)