At its June 11 meeting in Almaty, the Foreign Ministers Council of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) approved a joint statement in connection with the 30th anniversary of the date (June 1, 1988) on which the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) took effect, which had been signed in December 1987. In the document that was approved, the attendees reiterated the value of this treaty as an important factor in maintaining international security and stability, and also called for it to be preserved and strictly followed.
At the same time, the CSTO member states pointed out two significant issues.
First of all, they noted the lack of support for the initiative put forward by the Russian Federation in October 2007 to make the obligations ensuing from the treaty more international in nature.
Second, they drew attention to a number of threats posed by noncompliance.
As examples, they listed:
1) specific US military programs that are being pursued without regard to that country’s obligations under the 1987 treaty, including the Americans’ production and use of target missiles and combat drones, which are prohibited
2) the deployment of universal (multi-mission), land-based missile launchers
3) R&D underway in the United States to create a mobile, land-based, missile system with a range of 500 to 5,500 km., which is prohibited under the treaty
With regard to the use of the intermediate- and shorter-range missiles (prohibited under the 1987 treaty) as targets, it should be noted that since 2001, when Washington announced its unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and the Pentagon began to test the effectiveness of its missile-defense systems using interceptors, the Americans have violated the treaty 93 times by using the prohibited intermediate- and shorter-range missiles as targets.
Detailed information on the time and place of the tests, as well as the type of interceptor missiles and the type of intermediate- and shorter-range target missiles they are intercepting, is provided in real time on the website of the US Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency while it is testing its missile-defense system interceptors. Those facts can also be found in the public documents of the US Congress and in the statements made by the directors of the MDA during hearings on military issues.
In other words, although it has legally and politically remained within the framework of the 1987 treaty, the US actually left it far behind long ago. For the last 17 years it has been using banned intermediate- and shorter-range missiles as targets for testing its missile-defense systems.
The Americans intend to continue using target missiles such as the Hera (with a range of 1,100-1,200 kilometers), the MRT-1 (with a range of 1,100 km.), and the LRALT (with a range of 2,000 km.), all of which unequivocally fall under the provisions of the treaty. In May 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense added more missiles — the ARIES, LV-2, Storm, and Storm-2 — to this list.
In addition, the US has added combat drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or UAVs) such as the MQ-1B Predator, MQ-9A Reaper, MQ-1B Raptor, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and others to its arsenal, which under the treaty are all classified as ground-based cruise missiles, regardless of the fact that they were produced and pressed into service after that agreement had already been signed. Heavy UAVs of this type, which carry aircraft ordnance, clearly qualify as aerodynamic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km, which are prohibited by the 1987 Treaty. For example, the Predator UAV has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, and the Global Hawk — up to several thousand kilometers.
As of 2018 the Americans are now armed with more than three hundred such combat drones.
The universal launchers referred to in the CSTO members’ June 11 statement include the American Mk-41 multi-mission, vertical launch systems already installed at the US missile-defense base in Deveslu, in southern Romania, as well as the ones that will be deployed at a similar American military base near Redzikowo in northern Poland late this year. These launchers are unique in that they can be loaded with either defensive weapons, such as interceptor ABM systems, or offensive weapons, such as sea- and land-based cruise missiles that can pose a threat to neighboring states regardless of whether they are carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead. The diameter of this type of universal launcher makes it possible to load it with the kind of missiles used by the Aegis naval command-and-control and weapons system, as well as its analogous land-based variant, Aegis Ashore.
The universal Mk-41 launchers that have been set up in Romania to handle 24 missiles, in addition to the similar installations that are to be built in Poland for the same number of missiles, are ground-based versions of the missile launchers stationed on American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.
The June 11 statement released by the CSTO member states mentions the allocation of funds for the R&D to create a mobile, ground-based missile system.
At issue is the US readiness to begin production of medium-range, mobile, ground-launched cruise missiles, such as the nuclear-tipped Tomahawks that are banned under the 1987 treaty, and to then position them in Europe — in other words, to reenact NATO’s 1979 Double-Track Decision to deploy both Pershing II ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles on the European continent. The June 2018 issue of Jane’s International Defence Review includes the noteworthy announcement that the United States is prepared to continue the production of Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, which can be retained in service for another fifteen years.
In the conclusion of their joint statement approved in Almaty, the CSTO members urged the relevant parties to facilitate a constructive dialog and to do all that is needed to resolve the current disputes related to the implementation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate- and Shorter-Range Missiles, in order to reduce potential future risks.
That message is very applicable to the United States and its other allies, including Japan and South Korea, which are taking part in tests of the US sea-based ABM system that include the real-world use of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles prohibited under the 1987 treaty.