Congress Mandates Report on Russian Nuclear Treaty Cheating

Report seeks U.S. response to illegal Russian cruise missile

Vladimir Putin
• December 10, 2014 5:00 am


The pending national defense authorization bill would require the Obama administration to fully explain Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

A provision requiring a report on Russian noncompliance with the INF pact is contained in the joint House-Senate bill passed last week.

The report on the bill states that the violations threaten U.S. security, as well as the security of NATO and East Asian allies.

The bill calls for the report on the INF violation to be produced in 90 days after the bill is enacted into law and to include an assessment of the effect of the treaty breach.

The INF arms violation report also is required to include a description of how President Obama plans to resolve the cheating, including actions already taken, and any further actions planned. It also would include any plans to engage the Russians in diplomatic talks aimed at brining Moscow back into compliance.

Russian officials refused to discuss the violation during talks in Moscow last September, and the Russians responded to U.S. violation charges by accusing the United States of violating the INF treaty through the use of intermediate-range target missiles and by using armed drones, although the treaty does not cover unmanned aircraft.

The talks were led by delegations headed by Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Gottemoeller is scheduled to testify on the Russian INF cheating before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

The congressional report would be required to include an assessment of what arms verification measures will be used to make sure the Russians return to full compliance and U.S. plans to develop coordinated and cooperative responses to the treaty breach with allies.

Congress also wants the administration to produce "an assessment of whether Russian noncompliance threatens the viability of the INF treaty, whether such noncompliance constitutes a material breach of the INF treaty, and whether it is in the interests of the United States to remain a party of the INF treaty if such noncompliance continues," the bill states.

Congress is also requiring senior administration officials, including the secretaries of state and defense to brief the legislature on what is being done to resolve the violation.

"In the event the president determines that the Russian Federation has deployed, or intends to deploy, systems that violate the INF Treaty, the president shall promptly notify the appropriate congressional committees of such determination and any plans to respond to such deployments," the bill report says.

The State Department in July, as part of a long-delayed annual report on arms compliance, stated that "the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles."

The specific missile has not been disclosed publicly but arms analysts have said it is the R-500 cruise missile.

The report on the bill says that Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, in a letter to the Senate Armed Services in October described the INF violations as "a serious challenge to the security of the United States and our allies."

"These actions, particularly when placed in the broader context of Russian regional aggression, must be met with a strategic response," Dempsey said in the Oct. 23 letter.

The Obama administration has so far largely ignored the violation, which congressional officials have said has been known for years, including before the 2010 New START strategic arms treaty. Disclosure of the INF violation prior to Senate ratification of the treaty may have prevented some senators from supporting the arms pact.

The pending defense bill also calls for the Pentagon to produce an annual report on Russian military capabilities.

During the Cold War, the Pentagon regularly produced the "Soviet Military Power" report on Moscow’s conventional and nuclear forces. The report was halted after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Congress’ revival of the report is an indication of growing concerns about the Russian military, which is engaged in a large-scale buildup of strategic nuclear forces that includes new missiles, submarines, and bombers.

Published under: Russia