Russia has slammed Japan’s plans to deploy more US missile systems, saying the move hurts ties between Moscow and Tokyo and amounts to a breach of an arms control treaty with Washington.
Last week, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to buy two US-built Aegis Ashore missile defense systems amid a heated standoff with North Korea over its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
“Actions like these are in direct contradiction to the priority of building military and political trust between Russia and Japan, and, unfortunately, will impact in a negative way on the whole atmosphere in bilateral relations, including negotiations over the peace treaty problem,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed by former US President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, maintains that the two countries are not allowed to possess, produce, or test-launch nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges, defined as between 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles).
Besides the Aegis system, Washington has equipped Tokyo with Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems.
The two allies are also working on a jointly developed ship-based missile interceptor called the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) that will be used with the Aegis system.
“We need to bear in mind that all these systems have universal missile launchers that can use all types of missiles. It means another violation of the INF Treaty and we see that Japan is an accomplice in this matter,” Zakharova said.
The development comes amid tensions between the US, along with its two regional allies Japan and South Korea, and North Korea over its military deterrents. Pyongyang says the programs are needed to counter potential hostility by its adversaries, including Washington.
The new Aegis system’s planned 2023 deployment is set to reportedly cost Japanese taxpayers about 200 billion yen (1.8 billion dollars).
It was reported earlier this month that Japan would set aside 5.19 trillion yen (approximately $46 billion) for military affairs in the country’s initial budget proposal for the fiscal year starting April 2018.
US rejects Zakharova’s comments
Meanwhile, Washington has rejected Zakharova’s remarks, claiming that it is in “full compliance” with the INF.
“The United States is in full compliance with the INF Treaty. Russian claims to the contrary are false and meant to deflect attention from Russia’s own very clear violations,” a US State Department spokesman told CNN.