Friday, February 16, 2007

Russia may abandon arm reduction agreement; because of US

Moscow may leave arms reduction agreement
AP 16/02/2007

A top Russian general yesterday said that Moscow may unilaterally opt out of a key Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the United States that banned medium-range missiles, Russian news agencies reported.

General Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the military's General Staff, said Russia could pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

The decision would depend, he said, on whether the US fulfilled its plan to deploy missile defence components in Poland and the Czech Republic - plans that have upset Moscow.

"We shall see what our American partners do," Baluyevsky was quoted by Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti as saying. "Their actions to deploy missile defence sites in Europe are inexplicable."

President Vladimir Putin has said he does not trust US claims that the deployment of missile defence components in Europe was intended to counter missile threats from Iran, and warned that Russia would take retaliatory actions.

At a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Putin said the arms reduction treaty was outdated, and that many nations had since developed medium-range missiles eliminated by Russia and the United States.

The statement was part of a larger speech in which he assailed US policy and said that Moscow views Nato's expansion to its borders as a threat.