Russia has rejected a US demand for Moscow to destroy a new cruise missile system, a weapon Washington alleges is in violation of the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday it was unacceptable for Washington to demand the dismantlement of the SSC-8/9M729 missile system, denying the weapon is in breach of the INF treaty.
INF is a Cold-War era arms treaty signed in 1987 that requires the US and Russia to eliminate all their nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi).
Ryabkov also said Russia has proposed putting on a demonstration of the missile for the United States, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
"We are ready to show unprecedented transparency on the 9M729 missile, which alarms the Americans so much. We offered them a presentation and a briefing on the missile, which absolutely does not follow from the content of the treaty itself,” he said.
“But at the same time, we insist that the Americans take practical steps to alleviate our concerns on the Aegis Ashore systems, deployed in Romania, whose deployment is also scheduled in Poland soon."
The statement comes after earlier in the day US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood called on Russia to "verifiably destroy” the missiles in order to save the INF treaty and accused Moscow of destabilizing global security.
Wood said the system was capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads and represented a "potent and direct threat to Europe and Asia" as it had a range of 500 to 1,500 kilometers (310-620 miles).
"Unfortunately, the United States increasingly finds that Russia cannot be trusted to comply with its arms control obligations and that its coercive and malign actions around the globe have increased tensions," Wood told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.
US President Donald Trump's administration last week rejected an offer by Moscow to save the INF treaty, claiming it could not be properly verified, setting the stage for Washington to withdraw from the pact next month.
Moscow has refuted the US allegations, pointing out that Washington has provided no proof that Russia has, in fact, violated the treaty by deploying the missiles.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Washington's stance on the INF jeopardizes further nuclear disarmament and the sustainability of the non-proliferation treaty.
Ties between Moscow and Washington have plummeted to levels not seen since the Cold War due to the two countries’ disputes over the crises in Ukraine and Syria and after US officials accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Western countries have levied broad economic sanctions against Moscow over its support for pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
US intelligence agencies allege that Russia had influenced the US presidential election in November that year to help Trump get elected, an allegation that the US president and Russia have strongly denied.
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