The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Two House com­mit­tee chair­men wrote to Pres­i­dent Obama this week re­veal­ing that Rus­sian vi­o­la­tions of a key mis­sile treaty had wors­ened and that Moscow un­am­bigu­ously cheated on the ac­cord.

“It has be­come ap­par­ent to us that the sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing Rus­sia’s vi­o­la­tion has wors­ened and Rus­sia is now in ma­te­rial breach of the treaty,” House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mac Thorn­berry, Texas Repub­li­can, and House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Devin Nunes, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, wrote Mon­day.

The law­mak­ers were re­fer­ring to Rus­sia’s failure to ad­here to the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty, which bans Wash­ing­ton and Moscow from build­ing mis­siles with ranges of 310 miles to 3,400 miles. Mr. Thorn­berry and Mr. Nunes did not pro­vide de­tails about what led them to con­clude that the treaty breach had wors­ened.

U.S. of­fi­cials have said Rus­sian flight-test­ing of a new cruise mis­sile, iden­ti­fied by the Pen­tagon as the SSC-X-8, prompted the U.S. ini­tial de­ter­mi­na­tion that Moscow had vi­o­lated the ac­cord. An ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said the as­sess­ment is based on in­tel­li­gence in­di­cat­ing that Rus­sia moved beyond flight-test­ing to pro­duc­tion of the il­le­gal cruise mis­sile.

Mr. Thorn­berry and Mr. Nunes noted that the treaty is the only ac­cord to elim­i­nate an en­tire class of nu­clear arms and that its pro­vi­sions ban flight-test­ing, pro­duc­tion or pos­ses­sion of ground­launched or cruise mis­siles with in­ter­me­di­ate ranges.

“While your ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nally stated in 2014 (as a re­sult of pres­sure from our com­mit­tees) what had been well-un­der­stood be­fore then — that Rus­sia was il­le­gally flight test­ing in­ter­me­di­ate-range ground-launched cruise mis­siles — nei­ther the State Depart­ment nor the De­fense Depart­ment im­posed con­se­quences on Rus­sia,” the law­mak­ers wrote.

The State Depart­ment has not im­posed sanc­tions against Rus­sia, and the Pen­tagon has been blocked from de­vel­op­ing mil­i­tary op­tions in re­sponse to the treaty breach.

“We un­der­stand that your ad­min­is­tra­tion is not per­mit­ting the mil­i­tary to pur­sue op­tions rec­om­mended to you by the former chair­man of the joint chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey,” the law­mak­ers said.

Mr. Thorn­berry and Mr. Nunes urged Mr. Obama to aban­don his pol­icy to curb U.S. nu­clear forces, such as elim­i­nat­ing one leg of the mis­sile­sub­ma­rine-bomber triad or halt­ing a needed nu­clear mod­ern­iza­tion. They also re­quested that the State Depart­ment hit Rus­sia with sanc­tions for the treaty vi­o­la­tion.

The Rus­sian treaty breach was iden­ti­fied prior to 2014 by U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies but was kept se­cret by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in a bid to pro­mote its agenda of seek­ing ad­di­tional arms con­trol agree­ments with Moscow.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion is quick to re­act when the Rus­sians re­lease in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the elec­tion, but when it comes to vi­o­lat­ing nu­clear treaties, the pres­i­dent only seems will­ing to drag his feet,” said Mr. Thorn­berry. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s failure to con­front Rus­sian arms cheat­ing “en­cour­ages more Rus­sian mis­be­hav­ior and leads to a more dan­ger­ous world.”

Mr. Nunes called the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s failure to re­spond to the INF vi­o­la­tion “an­other mis­step con­tribut­ing to the spread­ing per­cep­tion of Amer­i­can weak­ness and in­de­ci­sive­ness.”

“The ‘strate­gic pa­tience’ touted by this ad­min­is­tra­tion is a ridicu­lous eu­phemism for pas­siv­ity and paral­y­sis that in­vites fur­ther ag­gres­sive ac­tions by Rus­sia and other in­ter­na­tional pari­ahs,” he said.

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