Bolton in Moscow: U.S. bound by INF but Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea are not

by WorldTribune Staff, October 23, 2018

The United States plans to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because Russia is violating the pact, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said.

With Russia in violation, “there was only one country in the world bound by the INF Treaty and that was the United States,” Bolton said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant after his meetings with Russian officials in Moscow on Oct. 23. “That’s just not acceptable.”

U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Oct. 23. / Russian Defense Ministry photo

U.S. officials say Russia for years has been developing a nuclear-capable missile system known as 9M729 in violation of the treaty.

Bolton added that other countries, including China, Iran, and North Korea, are able to develop weapons that would be prohibited under the INF pact while the U.S. is not.

In a separate interview with the BBC that was published on Oct. 23, Bolton said that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was “aware of the larger global context – that this is a bilateral treaty of the Cold War days; technologies changed, geostrategic realities changed, and we both have to deal with it.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 22 said his decision to withdraw from the INF was driven by Moscow’s alleged violations and a need to respond to China’s nuclear buildup.

The INF Treaty prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing, or deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers.

“Russia has not adhered to the agreement…. Until people come to their senses – we have more money than anybody else, by far. We’ll build it up,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Until they come to their senses. When they do, then we’ll all be smart and we’ll all stop.”

Asked if that was a threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said: “It’s a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Oct. 23 that Bolton acknowledged it might be unrealistic to expect China to comply with a treaty it never signed, but argued that China’s and North Korea’s development of intermediate-range missiles means that the bilateral treaty with Russia is now outmoded and no longer meets today’s realities.

“The situation vis-a-vis China, uninhibited by any agreement, is very different and far more pressing” than that of Russia, said John Lee, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, in a column on CNN’s website on Oct. 22.

Lee estimated that about 95 percent of the missiles in China’s arsenal would violate the INF Treaty if Beijing were a signatory.

In Moscow, Russian officials warned the United States that abandoning the treaty would be “dangerous” and any effort to develop weapons that would violate the pact would force Russia to take steps to restore the balance of power.

“Any action in this area will be met with a counteraction, because the strategic stability can only be ensured on the basis of parity,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said before his talks with Bolton. “Such parity will be secured under all circumstances. We bear a responsibility for global stability and we expect the United States not to shed its share of responsibility either.”

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