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NATO chief concerned if Russia missile reports prove true

NATO chief concerned if Russia missile reports prove trueNATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance would be concerned if reports that Russia has violated a Cold War-era treaty by deploying a cruise missile prove true, AP reported on Wednesday.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the missile became operational late last year, possibly violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on the development and testing of cruise missiles. Administration officials said the Russians now have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is still located at Russia’s missile test site at Kapustin Yar in southern Russia near Volgograd. The other was shifted in December from that test site to an operational base elsewhere in the country.

U.S. officials had called the cruise missile the SSC-X-8. But the “X” has been removed from intelligence reports, indicating that American intelligence officials consider the missile to be operational and no longer a system in development.

NATO's chief said Wednesday that "compliance with arms control agreements is of great importance and especially when it comes to treaties covering nuclear weapons."

He said that "any non-compliance of Russia with the INF Treaty would be a serious concern for the alliance."

His remarks in Brussels came before chairing the first meeting of NATO defense ministers with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
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