Stoltenberg: NATO Won't Deploy New Ground-Based Nuclear Missiles in Europe after INF Treaty Collapse

Stoltenberg: NATO Won't Deploy New Ground-Based Nuclear Missiles in Europe after INF Treaty Collapse

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - During a Friday press-conference in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance would not deploy new ground-based nuclear missiles in Europe following the break-up of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

The statement comes shortly after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty had been terminated starting 2 August at Washington's initiative.

At the same time, he claimed that Moscow's moratorium on the deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles "is not credible" and accused Russia of deploying missiles in Europe.

"This is not a credible offer because Russia has deployed missiles for years. There is zero credibility in offering a moratorium on missiles they are already deploying. There are no new US missiles, no new NATO missiles in Europe, but there are more and more new Russian missiles".

Even though the accord was officially terminated on 2 August, the military bloc doesn't "want a new arms race", Stoltenberg said, adding that it could be prevented.

The Secretary-General continued by saying that it was premature to reveal which conventional capabilities NATO would strengthen following the treaty's termination.

"We held a defense ministerial meeting in June here in Brussels, where we agreed on a package. We are working on different elements. I mentioned them, there are exercises, intelligence, but also air and missile defense and conventional capabilities. I think it's too early now to announce exactly what kind of conventional capabilities, partly because I think we will take the time we need, but also because I will make sure that we are united", he said.

Stoltenberg elaborated that NATO is convinced it is possible to agree on a new accord with Russia following the collapse of the deal, signed by the Soviet Union and the US in 1987.

"Allies are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Therefore, we will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment. NATO also continues to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia's actions make that possible", the alliance said in a statement.

The Cold War-era treaty, which banned the deployment of ground-based nuclear weapons with a range of 500 to 5,500 km, was terminated starting 2 August at the initiative of the United States, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated earlier in the day.

"On 2 August 2019 the Treaty between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America on the elimination of medium- and short-range missiles, signed in Washington on 8 December 1987, was terminated at the initiative of the American side".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, meanwhile, confirmed the withdrawal, but blamed the collapse of the pact on Russia.

In October 2018, Washington announced its intention to scrap the pact, having accused Russia of developing a treaty-violating missile. Moscow has denied the allegations, saying that the missile's range complies with what the agreement stipulates, and, in turn, accused Washington of coming up with a false pretext to leave the treaty and develop new missiles.

The official then addressed the issue of the Russian S-400 air defense systems that had been delivered to Turkey last month, and said that the Russia-made military equipment would not be integrated into any of the alliance's defense systems.

"There are no plans to integrate the Russian S-400 into any NATO integrated air and missile defense systems".

Ankara received the first batch of S-400s last month despite Washington's continued calls to abandon the deal with Moscow.

The United States and the alliance have repeatedly voiced concerns the S-400s are incompatible with NATO military equipment, claiming that the Russian systems jeopardize F-35 stealth fighter jets that Turkey also sought to acquire. According to Washington and Brussels, the simultaneous purchase would allegedly provide Russian experts with key insights into confidential data related to the aircraft's technology.

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