Senior Obama administration officials informed congressional lawmakers in a closed-door 2012 briefing that Russia was not abiding by a bilateral arms control accord that bans the fielding of intermediate-range missiles, the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday.
The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty required both Russia and the United States to eliminate all of their nuclear and non-nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles with maximum flight distances between roughly 300 miles and 3,400 miles. Russia’s testing of the SS-25 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile and of the new-model RS-26, optimized for penetrating missile defenses, may have raised the concerns about violating the accord’s range restrictions, according to the website. However, the alleged focus of the cheating remains secret.
Last November during a classified session, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon and acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Moscow was in breach of the INF accord, according to the report, which cites two unnamed U.S. officials who were at the briefing.
Then-Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) blasted the reported treaty transgressions: “If we’re going to have treaties with people, we’ve got to adhere to them,” he was said to have groused.
“We’re not going to pass another treaty in the U.S. Senate if our colleagues are sitting up here knowing somebody is cheating,” said Kerry, now secretary of State, according to two officials with access to the classified record of the briefing.
Twelve Republican senators are backing an amendment to their chamber’s fiscal 2014 national defense authorization bill that would require the State and Defense departments to brief Congress on compliance issues related to the INF pact.
“The administration’s been candid with Congress about a range of countries where we have ongoing treaty compliance issues … and that includes concerns we have raised with Russia,” an anonymous Obama official told the Daily Beast. “Determinations about non-compliance are made after a careful process, but Congress is in the loop.”
Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), who sponsored the amendment to the NDAA bill, is one of several senators reportedly blocking Gottemoeller from being confirmed to the position of undersecretary of State. Sources told the Daily Beast that Gottemoeller is also in the running to become the next U.S. envoy to Russia.