WASHINGTON: United States on Tuesday voiced concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin´s pledge to boost Moscow´s nuclear arsenal by more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year, saying such a move would be a “step backwards.”
“We have the START agreement. We´re trying to move in the opposite direction,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters, adding he was concerned.
Kerry was referring to a bilateral accord between the US and the then Soviet Union signed in July 1991 to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals.
The secretary of state said in April the US was ready to hold new negotiations with Russia on additional strategic nuclear cuts below the level agreed in the 2011 New START treaty.
That treaty had already significantly cut the number of intercontinental and ballistic missiles which each country can have on their territory.
“We´ve had enormous cooperation from the 1990s forward with respect to the destruction of nuclear weapons that were in former territories of the Soviet Union. And nobody wants to see us step backwards,” he said Tuesday.
“Nobody wants to — I think — go back to a kind of Cold War status.” Putin´s declaration followed reports that the US is planning to bulk up its military deployments in eastern Europe, with tensions between Russia and the West at their highest since the end of the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.
“This year the size of our nuclear forces will increase by over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles that will be able to overcome any, even the most technologically advanced, missile defense systems,” Putin said at the opening of an exhibition of military hardware outside Moscow.
Kerry acknowledged that the statement may be just “posturing… because of their concerns about military moves being made by NATO.”
“But nobody should hear that kind of announcement from the leader of a powerful country and not be concerned about what the implications are.”