US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that Washington intends to deploy ground-based medium-range missiles in the Asian region. Previously, they were banned by the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF). He noted that the United States would like to carry out this intention "in the near future."
This statement was made by the head of the Pentagon on board the aircraft on the way to Sydney on the eve of a week-long tour of East Asia, which will be his first on this post.
“We would like to deploy rockets in the near future. Preferably, within a few months ... But often it takes more time than you expect, ”said Esper, answering a question from journalists whether the US is considering the possibility of deploying medium-range missiles in Asia.
At the same time, the head of the American defense ministry did not specify which countries are planning to deploy missiles, as well as to whom they will be sent.
Experts believe that the range of states where they may appear is limited.
“Taiwan, as well as Japan and South Korea, controlled by the United States, can be candidates for the deployment of medium-range missiles. The deployment of these complexes in Taiwan and South Korea will cause a certain reaction from China, so Japan will most likely get them, ”said Alexey Leonkov, a military specialist in the interview with RT Arsenal of the Fatherland, in an interview with RT.
The military observer Viktor Baranets agrees with this point of view. According to him, the list of states that can accommodate missiles is wider.
"The United States intends to deploy medium-range ground-based missiles in the territory of its most loyal allies, which include Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines," the expert said in an interview with RT.
Baranets also suggested that the deployment of missiles in Asia is part of a more global regional project of Washington, which can be called "Asian NATO".
“Having decided to deploy medium and short-range missiles in Asia, the United States is pursuing its line on the creation of an Asian NATO. In the American doctrines, there is already a European NATO, they recently spoke of a Middle Eastern led by Saudi Arabia, and now an Asian led by Japan or South Korea is being formed, ”the expert suggested.
As Aleksey Leonkov notes, China could be a potential target for American missiles.
“Washington believes that by placing its missiles in Asia, it will align the balance of power and will be able to talk on equal terms with Beijing, because now Chinese missiles reach all US military bases in the region,” he believes.
Baranets sticks to a similar opinion on this score.
“The United States, in particular the Pentagon, does not hide the fact that China is the enemy, so in this case, the American decision to deploy missiles, which has not yet been finalized, is an injection against Beijing,” he said.
Earlier, Washington has repeatedly complained that the action of the INF Treaty does not extend to the Chinese missile potential. The White House proposed to conclude a new contract with the participation of Beijing, but the latter refused to do so. With such an initiative, including the President of the United States Donald Trump.
In 2018, the US Department of Defense published data according to which hundreds of medium-range and shorter-range missiles are in service with the Chinese army.
In the same year, China adopted a new medium-range ballistic missile DF-26 capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. According to the developers, it can hit both ground targets and ships of the likely enemy. Missile flight range has not been officially announced. According to the US military-today.com, the DF-26 can strike targets within a radius of 3 to 4 thousand kilometers, which threatens many US military bases in the region.
Dissatisfaction with the development of the PRC missile program could be one of the main reasons why Washington decided to quit the INF Treaty, experts say.
Leonkov believes that Beijing does not intend to get involved in an arms race.
"China, speaking with the presentation of the White Paper on national defense, clearly stated that he will not participate in the arms race and will not produce more missiles than he needs," said the expert.
The head of the Pentagon also touched on the subject of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START III). According to him, Washington should “seriously study” this agreement and find out how much it corresponds to American interests. To avoid an arms race, he noted, other countries should join him.
- Missiles of China during the parade
- © Andy Wong / Pool
In this area, the PRC can negotiate a new agreement, according to Leonkov.
“In Beijing, they said they did not intend to conclude such agreements as the INF Committee, but are open to dialogue on the issue of nuclear safety. China’s position coincides with the Russian one, so the US will be forced to negotiate with these two countries, since the format in which they want to work does not suit anyone, ”the expert noted.
According to Leonkov, the negotiations will be difficult, but they need to begin now, because the Americans intend to terminate START III.
Position of Russia
Viktor Baranets believes that American missiles in Asia can be directed not only against China, but also Russia.
“The rockets Esper is talking about will be directed against the Russian Federation and China, which is gaining power and annoying the Pentagon. Moscow and Beijing will be forced to take countermeasures, ”he said.
Baranets added that "huge military armada of NATO from the West and the North-West" are already putting pressure on Russia.
“The North Atlantic Alliance is equipped with certain types of missile defense, which can be converted into offensive ones,” the expert believes.
The Russian authorities had previously stated that they would abide by a moratorium on the deployment of medium-range and short-range missiles in the border zones after the abolition of the INF Treaty, until the United States did the same.
- Pentagon Building
As Leonkov believes, the Pentagon’s initiative to deploy American missiles in Asia will force Russia to take retaliatory steps, since it is pointless to observe this moratorium unilaterally.
“Moscow offered Washington to return to complying with the INF Treaty, but the Americans came out of it, the Russians did it after them, because it is pointless to remain in a contract that the other party is no longer fulfilling,” the expert said.
According to Leonkov, Russia will take a low profile. It will not threaten the United States, but Russian missiles will be aimed at those areas where American weapons will be deployed.
Baranets, in turn, suggested that the deployment of missiles in Asia would increase demand in the region for Russian anti-aircraft systems, such as the S-400.
“Perhaps in the future, Russia will thank the Americans for such an aggression, since it will replenish the Russian state treasury - Moscow will be able to launch production of anti-aircraft systems, which it will snapping up like hot cakes. The military-industrial complex will receive colossal revenues and the opportunity to improve its modern systems, ”he concluded.
According to experts, Esper’s statement that it may take “several months” to deploy missiles in Asia indicates that in the United States the development of these types of weapons began long before the end of the INF Treaty, not two years ago.
Recall, on August 2, the Pentagon reported that Americans have been carrying out “research and development” work in this area since 2017. At the same time, the US military emphasized that the developments were at an early stage, since Washington complied with the conditions of the INF Treaty.
“In my opinion, the Americans did not stop any development. They were engaged in the development of new types of missiles, and now it is time at the final stage to conduct already open tests. In order to save face, they played this performance, this circus with the withdrawal from the contract, ”said Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense Alexander Sherin to RIA Novosti.
Leonkov adheres to a similar point of view.
“The United States has long been developing the development of appropriate weapons, it’s just that Russia has not made a sensation out of it,” he stressed.