Russia and China have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Thursday over “statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles.” Moscow and Beijing want to convene the 15-member council under the agenda item “threats to international peace and security” and have requested that UN disarmament affairs chief Izumi Nakamitsu brief the body, according to a request obtained by Reuters news agency.
On Monday, the United States defense department announced that it had tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500km of flight, the first such test since the United States pulled out Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked in a Fox News Channel interview on Wednesday whether the test was aimed at sending a message to China, Russia or North Korea and indicated that the main concern was China.
“We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to challenge Chinese bad behaviour by having our own capability to be able to strike at intermediate ranges,” he said. Esper said on a visit to Australia this month he was in favor of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon.
Esper was also asked about a rocket test accident in Russia this month which US officials believe was associated with the Kremlin’s hypersonic cruise missile programme. “Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear power to deal with the United States,” he said, adding that all such new weapons would have to be included in any future strategic arms reduction treaty.
“Right now Russia has possibly nuclear-tipped … INF-range cruise missiles facing toward Europe, and that’s not a good thing,” he said.