China has warned the United States and Asian countries against deploying medium-range missiles in Asia, vowing reprisals, while Russia said it would take countermeasures if Washington deployed such missiles.
The United States and the countries of the region, especially Japan, South Korea and Australia, should be "careful" because this would not be in the interest of their national security, said Fu Hong, director general of arms control at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, during a press conference Tuesday in Beijing.
"China will not remain idle and will have to take reprisals if the United States publishes medium-range missiles in this region of the world," he said.
The new US Defense Secretary Mark Esber said Saturday during a visit to Australia that his country wants to accelerate the deployment of new missiles in Asia, in the coming months, if possible, to contain the expansion of Chinese influence in the region. While the Australian Defense Ministry expressed its refusal to host any US missiles, Reuters reported.
Washington announced Friday its withdrawal from the 1987 mid-range nuclear weapons treaty after it had long accused Russia of violating the production of surface-to-air missiles capable of reaching a prohibited range of 5,500 to 5,500 kilometers.
This agreement played an effective role in reducing the escalation of the arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s.
But the treaty prevented the United States from installing medium-range missiles near Chinese territory, while Beijing did not comply with them, allowing it to assemble a large arsenal of missiles and gain greater influence in the western Pacific region, which worries Washington.
|Putin says his country has not broken the medium-range missile treaty (Reuters)|
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his country had no plans to enter into an arms race with Washington, but if new US systems were launched, specifically in Asia, "we will take the corresponding steps that balance such measures to counter such threats"
Ryabkov told a news conference that his country expects Tokyo to soon deploy the US-launched K-41 missile system in Japan.
President Vladimir Putin has said that his country would only deploy medium-range nuclear missiles if Washington did so first. He denied Russia's violation of the treaty, saying the United States had withdrawn on a "fabricated argument."