US Government Wants to Station Rockets in Asia
The USA has been planning to set up conventional medium-range missiles in Asia for a long time. Now Defense Secretary Mark Esper wants to implement this as soon as possible.
In order to counter China’s increasing military influence in Asia, the US is seeking to deploy conventional medium-range missiles on the continent. New US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the US government wants to do this “as soon as possible”, if possible within months. In which Asian country the US wants to station the new rockets, Esper did not say. He does not want to speculate about it, but first exchanges with the US allies.
According to Esper, China should not be surprised by this step. It would be “discussed for quite a while,” he said. Eighty per cent of the Chinese arsenal consisted of weapons that fell under the provisions of the INF Treaty.
The INF contract had expired the day before. The agreement, negotiated by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, prohibited the deployment of nuclear-ready rockets and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres in Europe. In the last period of the Cold War, it was considered a success for the disarmament efforts of both countries and remained after the disintegration of the Soviet Union with Russia as a contractor in force.
For Europe in particular, the agreement was a guarantee of security, as contracted missiles would otherwise have been able to reach Europe within a few minutes. In February, the US unilaterally terminated the contract. They accuse Russia of maintaining a missile type that can fly much further than allowed: 2,000 kilometres instead of the 480 compliant with the agreement. Russia denied these allegations.
Observers are now warning of a new arms race, including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The end of the treaty does not bring any benefit, but is a “strike against strategic security,” he said.
It will not be long before the next disarmament agreement comes to an end: In 2021, the so-called New Start Treaty expires, with the nuclear arsenals of the two military powers having to be reduced to 800 launchers and 1,550 ready to deploy nuclear warheads. Although both countries agreed to talk about an extension, they have not yet achieved any results in this direction.