Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will not comply with Russian demands to limit their missile system deployments, says a US official.
Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, made the statements on Tuesday, citing the threat posed by North Korea as the main reason, according to Reuters.
"We are not going to agree to limitations on our systems because we need to have the flexibility to deal with the dynamic and evolving threat," Rose told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
"North Korea has large numbers of ballistic missiles and they test them often," Rose said, noting that Pyongyang’s missiles could already reach South Korea and most of Japan and potentially the US mainland.
Rose’s comments came days after North Korea claimed last week that the country has now “proudly joined the advanced ranks of nuclear weapons states” by testing its first hydrogen bomb.
The deployment of NATO's ballistic missile systems and reported nuclear weapons to various European countries has been a source of tension between Russia and the US-led alliance, although NATO says it is not designed against Moscow.
"The key Russian concern ... is that in the future, absent legally binding constraints, we will develop systems that could potentially negate their strategic deterrent," Rose said.
"These capabilities are designed to defend NATO Europe against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. They are not directed against Russia," he claimed.
Moscow does not look favorably upon the deployment of missiles and nuclear weapons in NATO states near its borders, accusing the organization of “gradual expansion,” as put by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in June last year that if threatened by NATO, Moscow will respond to the threat accordingly.
“If someone threatens our territories, it means that we will have to aim our armed forces accordingly at the territories from where the threat is coming. How else could it be? It is NATO that approaching our borders, it’s not like we are moving anywhere,” he said.
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