THE world could become packed with Russian nuclear missiles, the head of Nato has warned.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 60, gave the stark warning as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which was signed in 1987 appeared to be almost in tatters.
US President Donald Trump said in February this year it would suspend its obligations under the treaty and accused Russia of breaching its terms.
The Nato boss told the BBC: "We have to be prepared for a world… with more Russian missiles.”
Under the terms of the 1987 agreement which both the US and the USSR signed, short and medium-range nuclear missiles were banned.
Russia denied it had broken the agreement but later suspended its own obligations and announced plans to develop a new weapons system.
Mr Stoltenberg said the Russian missiles were in “clear violation of the treaty” as they were able to carry a nuclear warhead, mobile, very hard to detect and were capable of reaching European cities within a few minutes.
While he hoped Russia would come back within the terms of the agreement he warned there were “no signs whatsoever” it would do so.
Russia has been given a deadline of August 2 to comply with the treaty and if it didn’t Mr Stoltenberg said the Nato alliance would respond in a “measured, defensive way”.
He said Nato could react with conventional air and missile defences, increased readiness of forces as well as new arms control initiatives but said any final decision would be taken after the deadline had passed.
Mr Stoltenberg also described as “a serious issue” the delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system to Turkey, a Nato member, last week.
What is the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty?
The INF treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 kilometres (310 miles) to 5,500 kilometres (3,415 miles) and bans either side from stationing land-based missiles in Europe.
It was signed by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to end the build-up or warheads in Europe.
The immediate effect eliminated the US' Pershing II missiles and the Soveiet Union's SS-20s – which was a key event in ending the Cold War.
However, in February 2018, the Pentagon concluded that Russia was actively violating its arms treaty agreements.
Then in October, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concurred
"After years of denials, Russia recently acknowledged the existence of a new missile system, called 9M729," Stoltenberg said at the time.
“Russia has not provided any credible answers on this new missile.
"All allies agree that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the treaty.”
In response, the US said it would remove the country from its F-35 fighter jet programme.
Mr Stoltenberg told the corporation: "It is a serious issue because it is a serious disagreement which involves two important allies.”
He added that Nato supported efforts to resolve the disagreement.
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