The US ambassador to Nato, Kay Bailey Hutchison, was speaking ahead of that meeting & brought up once again Washington’s contention that Russia is in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement of 1987.
This treaty banned a whole category of weapons: ground-launched medium-range missiles, capable of striking targets at distances between 500 & 5,500km (310-3,100 miles).
Now, the Americans insist, despite Russian denials, that Moscow has a new medium-range missile in its inventory the Novator 9M729 known to Nato as the SSC-8.
This would enable Russia to launch a nuclear strike at Nato countries at very short notice. Ambassador Hutchison said the US wants to find a diplomatic solution to this problem.
But she appeared to indicate that the US might consider military action if Russia’s development of the system continued.
“At that point we would be looking at the capability to take out a Russian missile that could hit any of our countries,” she said, adding counter-measures (by the US) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty.
“They are on notice.” At first sight, this seems to be a fairly blunt warning from President Donald Trump’s Nato ambassador.
But it is not exactly clear what she is saying. Is she threatening a pre-emptive strike out of the blue? Surely not.
Indeed, other US experts have sometimes suggested that a more likely US response might be to throw over the INF treaty itself and deploy a similar category of weapon.
That would be very bad news for arms control.
Back in the Cold War, the US was alarmed at the then Soviet Union’s deployment of the SS-20 system.
Some of Washington’s allies agreed to receive US Pershing and Cruise missiles in response. The move prompted widespread protests and huge political tensions. Check this video for more info.