Trump's NATO Envoy Sets Off Diplomatic Incident With A Nuclear Edge

US threatens to ‘take out’ new Russian cruise missile system if it becomes operational

"It seems that people who make such statements do not understand the degree of their responsibility and the danger of such aggressive rhetoric", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is reported as saying on Tuesday by Russian news agency TASS.

"Who authorized this lady to make such statements?"

"We have shown Russian Federation the evidence that we have, that they are violating the treaty", Hutchison said from Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO Defence Ministerial meeting. Hutchinson may have been referring to "counter measures" in terms of missile defences or the proposed development of new USA weapons that would target Russia's treaty-violating missiles. "The U.S. has acted, showing that our commitment to the transatlantic alliance remains iron-clad", he said.

She later sent a Tweet clarifying her intent, explaining she was not talking about strikes.

"They are building a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of the INF".

Stoltenberg said that the United States "has determined that Russia is in violation because, according to the US, Russia has started to deploy that missile".

One possible step would be to stand up a better sensor network so the United States can track any Russian cruise missiles from the moment of their launch at a European target.

"All allies agree that the most plausible assessment would be that Russian Federation is in violation of the treaty", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and European defense ministers.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday that NATO remained "concerned about Russia's lack of respect for its global commitments, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty".

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Nato fears the 9M729 system contravenes the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

The US threatened to counter-measures against Russian missile development sites over what it considers production of banned nuclear-capable missiles. A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation official told me that the issue of Russia's INF violation will be a topic of discussion during the two-day meeting.

Her position is that Russian Federation should return to compliance with the INF Treaty, otherwise NATO will be forced to take additional action to ensure their safety. The United States now has limited ability to defend against cruise missile threats.

If the system "became capable of delivering", she said, the United States "would then be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America".

"We remain concerned about Russia's lack of respect for its global commitments including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty", Stoltenberg stated.

The treaty-offending missile, according to Washington, is the Russian 9M729 cruise missile, known to the USA military and intelligence community as SSC-X-8 "Screwdriver".

Later on, Tuesday Hutchinson said she "was not talking about preemptively striking Russia" when she said the United States would have to "take out" the Russian missiles.

"It is therefore urgent", he went on, "that Russian Federation addresses these concerns in a substantial and transparent manner".

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