2018-11-30| Science & Technology
Netherlands says it has proof of Russian violation of INF treaty
AMSTERDAM -- The Dutch government is asserting that it has evidence that Russia is violating the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the pact in December 1987. It was considered a major step in ending the Cold War.
The Netherlands' Foreign and Defence ministries lodged the accusation in a Tuesday (November 27) document posted online by the lower chamber of the country's parliament.
"The Netherlands can independently confirm that Russia has developed and is currently introducing a ground-based cruise weapon," Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld wrote in the joint Dutch-language letter, according to a translation by NL Times. They credited their findings to "intelligence".
"If Russia continues to undermine the INF treaty in spite of everything, and the US has to draw definitive conclusions from this Russian behavior, the Netherlands and NATO allies must consider next steps - both in the military field and in the field of arms control. It is clear to the Netherlands that the responsibility for the then arising situation lies with Russia," the document continued.
The missile in question is the SSC-8 cruise missile, said the officials.
The SSC-8 violates the INF prohibition on development of missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500km, according to both the Dutch and US governments.
Washington has accused the Kremlin since 2013 of flouting the treaty. In October, US President Donald Trump stated America's readiness to abrogate the pact.
Concern among NATO members
The Dutch disclosure puts another NATO member on the United States' side in asserting that Russia has violated an agreement that led to the destruction of almost 2,700 missiles.
The violation "cannot remain unanswered", wrote the Dutch officials, according to the Moscow Times' translation. The Netherlands will "closely co-operate with the United States and other NATO allies on the future of the INF Treaty", they vowed in their letter.
Poland, also a NATO member, expressed its own concerns back in October.
"Russia is violating the provisions of the treaty by deploying new missiles," Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in Brussels at the time, according to Defence24.pl. "If this treaty has ceased to function, because it's already been broken, the question does arise of whether it should still be observed."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said Russia was imperilling the agreement, which he has called a "cornerstone" of European security.
Russia denies violating the agreement, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his facetious approach towards nuclear security.