Esper Denies Asking Asian Allies about Regional Missile Deployment

  • Esper Denies Asking Asian Allies about Regional Missile Deployment

Esper Denies Asking Asian Allies about Regional Missile Deployment

China threatened countermeasures on Tuesday if the United States deploys intermediate-range, ground-based missiles in Asia and warned USA allies of repercussions if they allow such weapons on their territory.

"Before such weapons enter the arsenal of the Russian army, real threats to Russia in connection with the USA withdrawal from the INF Treaty will be reliably counteracted by our existing means", Putin said in a statement.

The comments come days after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Washington was now free to deploy the weapons following its withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russian Federation. If it does deploy them, Beijing had warned it would not stand idly by.

"This is not about moving North Atlantic Treaty Organisation into the Pacific, but this is about responding to the fact that China is coming closer to us", Stoltenberg said, speaking to Reuters on Wednesday. The Chinese official also said there would be repercussions against any US ally who allows the missiles in the region.

He specifically mentioned Japan, South Korea, and Australia, warning it would not serve their national security interests.

Fu did not specify how China would respond but said "everything will be on the table" if USA allies made allowances for the missiles.

Fu dismissed U.S. arguments for leaving the treaty as "pure pretext", saying Washington was merely looking for an excuse to develop new weapons.

Fu said China was particularly concerned about announced plans to develop and test a land-based intermediate-range missile in the Asia-Pacific "sooner rather than later", in the words of one U.S. official.

Zuo Xiying, a professor of worldwide relations at Renmin University of China, said the USA intention may cause changes in the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific, breaking the existing strategic equilibrium as well as exacerbating the arms race.

Meanwhile, Washington's argument that it is threatened by China because 80 percent or more of Chinese missiles fall into the intermediate-range category doesn't hold up, since those missiles would be unable to reach the continental US. China was in no way involved in the treaty, thus allowing it to gradually build up a formidable land-based arsenal of intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, which provided incentive for the leave the treaty as a way of maintaining hegemony in the Pacific. Now that the no longer operating under INF constraints it can easily compete with China; according to an article by the Lowy Institute, the US can comfortably outspend Beijing and quickly build up a formidable regional arsenal of new weapons to challenge China.