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Fears over Russia nuclear treaty withdrawal

Nik Martin with DPA
April 20, 2019

General Eberhard Zorn says he's disturbed by the American and Russian withdrawal from the INF nuclear missile treaty. He warned that Moscow remains "a big threat" to peace in Europe.

General Eberhard Zorn
Image: Imago/photothek

The inspector-general of Germany's Bundeswehr, General Eberhard Zorn, has called for a new arms treaty to replace the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) which both Washington and Moscow have suspended.

In an interview with the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland group of publications on Saturday, Zorn said the ending of the INF accord was the most troubling security policy change.

"Assuming this treaty ends completely, I'm worried about how to proceed with medium-range missiles. In my opinion, a new arms control regime must be sought. And everyone has to be brought on board — Russia, the United States and China," he said.

Read more: Munich Security Report sees world as a broken puzzle

Zorn added that a new arms treaty would be essential to ensure the safety of Germany and Europe.

Although he pointed to several world powers as being responsible for the current escalation in global politics, he singled out Russia as a "big threat" to peace in Europe.

Russia's actions haunt Europe

"As far as Europe is concerned, the facts speak for themselves," Zorn said, detailing several Russian infractions — the annexation of Crimea, its involvement in eastern Europe, the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, cyberattacks, and the suspension of the INF Treaty.

"All of this has a quality of its own." he told the newspaper group.

Last month, Russia ended its participation in the Reagan-era treaty, in response to a similar US announcement.

Read more: Vladimir Putin says Russia will target US if it deploys missiles to Europe

Moscow and Washington have accused one another of breaching the accord made between the US and the former Soviet Union in 1987. Russia denies breaking the accord, as does the US.

US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated the accord which ended a superpower buildup of warheads that had frightened Europe.

It banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles) and addressed Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals, but put no restrictions on other major military actors such as China.

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