Trump's NATO Envoy Sets Off Diplomatic Incident With A Nuclear Edge

Trump's NATO Envoy Sets Off Diplomatic Incident With A Nuclear Edge”

Kay Bailey Hutchison, warned Tuesday that the United States could "take out" Russian missiles that are perceived to be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty should Moscow continue to violate the agreement.

USA ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Washington remained committed to a diplomatic solution but was prepared to consider a military strike if Russian development of the medium-range 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,"Hutchinson told a news conference. They are on notice", she said".

American officials are insisting to denial from the Russian administration that Moscow have a new medium-ranged missile in its inventory, the Novator 9M729, which North Atlantic Treaty Organisation refer to as the SSC-8.

But Hutchison's comments Tuesday were the first time a high-ranking USA official indicated that the Pentagon might consider anything more than diplomatic action, should the Russian missiles become operational.

"We have looked into this intelligence and we are extremely concerned", Stoltenberg told reporters at alliance headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.

"The impression is that people making such claims are unaware of the degree of their responsibility and the danger of aggressive rhetoric", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters, the Interfax news agency reported.

The treaty "is in danger because of Russia's actions", Stoltenberg said, adding, "all Allies agree that the most plausible assessment would be that Russian Federation is in violation of the treaty".

The Soviet Union achieved strategic parity with the USA in the mid to late 1970s and started developing missiles that were more mobile, accurate, easily deployable and concealable and that could cover targets in Western Europe, North Africa, the Middle East but also Asia, Southeast Asia and the U.S. state of Alaska. But I think the question was what would you do if this continues to a point where we know that they are capable of delivering. Russian Federation firmly denies these accusations and says that the missile in question is allowed under the agreement.

The treaty, which the United States and the Soviet Union signed in 1987, prohibits the production and deployment of nuclear and conventional missiles that fly from 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

For his part, Pavel Podvig, a United Nations nuclear arms expert in Geneva, told EUobserver in a previous interview that Russian Federation would be unlikely to fire tactical weapons at targets in Europe even if it faced defeat in a conflict outside its own borders due to Nato's conventional superiority.

Efforts by USA diplomats to bring Russia back into compliance with the treaty, including meetings between American and Russian officials as part of the pact's enforcement mechanism, have so far come up short.

The comments by Ms Hutchison are the most direct warning of a pre-emptive strike since a USA official said in 2017 that the United States would consider its own missile system if Russian Federation continued to violate the treaty.

The treaty bans only production, testing and use of intermediate-range missiles; research and development isn't prohibited.

Or could it be a new variant of the sea-launched Kalibr land attack missile that has been used by the Russian navy against targets in Syria?

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