The United States has publicly accused Russia for the first time of deploying a cruise missile in violation of a 30-year-old arms control agreement.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman General Paul Selva confirmed on Capitol Hill the deployment of the land-based missile violates the “spirit and intent” of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Selva’s remarks Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee were the U.S. military’s first public confirmation of reports last month that Russia had secretly positioned them.
Selva testified the deployment poses “risk to most of our facilities in Europe.” He added the move is an attempt by Russia to threaten the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration said the SSC-8 cruise missile had been tested in 2014, violating the treaty that bans U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles on land.
The violation was first raised with Russian officials in 2013 by deputy secretary- general of NATO Rose Gottemoeller, who was then the State Department’s highest-ranking arms control official during the Obama administration.
After several years of frustration, the United States convened a meeting of a special panel created under the treaty to deal with arms compliance matters last November in Geneva. It was the first meeting in 13 years of the panel, which is comprised of the United States, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Russia denied it had violated the treaty and, in turn, accused the United States of violations.