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US violating key arms treaty over missile system sale to Japan, Russia says

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has accused the United States of breaching a major arms treaty, after Washington sold a missile system to Japan.

“The US is deploying them (missile systems) at their military bases in Romania and Poland, that is near our western borders, which goes against the 1987 INF Treaty banning the deployment of such systems on the ground,” Ryabkov said in a statement on Saturday.

“The fact that such complexes could now appear on Russia’s eastern borders creates a situation that we cannot ignore in our military planning,” he added.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that the deployment of the US missile system would harm Russia-Japan ties.

The INF Treaty was signed between the United States and the former Soviet Union on December 8, 1987.

The accord covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles and intermediate-range missiles. The former Soviet Union eliminated 1,846 such missiles, while the US destroyed 846 under the treaty.

The photo shows a US live-fire test of the Aegis weapons system on June 19, 2014 in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo by AFP)

On December 19, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to buy two US-built Aegis Ashore missile systems amid a heated standoff with North Korea over its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Although the Japanese constitution bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, Tokyo has significantly increased its military budget, setting 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.

The development comes amid tensions between the US, along with its two regional allies Japan and South Korea, and North Korea over Pyongyang’s military deterrents.

Pyongyang says its nuclear and missile programs are needed to counter any potential hostility by its adversaries, including Washington.

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