Swazi Observer - - NEWS -

MOSCOW - A de­fi­ant Vladimir Putin on Wed­nes­day threat­ened to de­velop nu­clear mis­siles banned un­der a treaty with the United States after Wash­ing­ton gave Moscow a dead­line to com­ply with the key arms con­trol agree­ment.

The lat­est spike in ten­sions came a day after US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Wash­ing­ton would with­draw from a ma­jor Cold War treaty lim­it­ing mid-range nu­clear arms within 60 days if Rus­sia does not dis­man­tle mis­siles that the US claims breach the deal. Putin dis­missed Pom­peo's state­ment as a smoke­screen, say­ing Wash­ing­ton had al­ready de­cided to ditch the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces treaty (INF). "They thought we would not no­tice," the Krem­lin chief said, claim­ing the Pentagon has al­ready ear­marked an amount for the devel­op­ment of mis­siles banned by the treaty. "We are against the de­struc­tion of this treaty. But if this hap­pens, we will re­act ac­cord­ingly."

Putin said about a dozen coun­tries were now pro­duc­ing mid-range mis­siles of the type banned by the INF treaty. "Ap­par­ently now Amer­i­can part­ners be­lieve the sit­u­a­tion has changed so much that the United States should also have such weapons.

"What will be our an­swer? A sim­ple one: We will also do this," Putin said. In Brus­sels, EU diplo­matic chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini urged Rus­sia and the US to save the treaty, warn­ing that Europe did not want to be­come a bat­tle­field for global pow­ers once again, as it had been dur­ing the Cold War. "The INF has guar­an­teed peace and se­cu­rity in Euro­pean ter­ri­tory for 30 years now," Mogherini said as she ar­rived for talks with NATO for­eign min­is­ters.

In Oc­to­ber, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sparked con­cern glob­ally by declar­ing the United States would pull out of the deal and build up Amer­ica's nu­clear stock­pile "un­til peo­ple come to their senses".

Putin at the time warned that aban­don­ing the treaty and fail­ure to ex­tend an­other key arms con­trol agree­ment known as the New START, would unleash a new arms race and put Europe in dan­ger. AFP

THREATS: Vladimir Putin.

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