Putin says open to third nations joining nuclear treaty

MOSCOW, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Tuesday he was open to the idea of other countries joining a key Cold War treaty limiting midrange nuclear arms or to starting talks on a new agreement.

The president spoke after Washington this month said it would withdraw from

the IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) within 60 days if Russia

did not dismantle missiles that the US claims breach the deal.

At a defence ministry meeting, Putin repeated accusations that Washington

had itself violated the bilateral treaty and suggested other countries join

the USRussia agreement in a bid to salvage it.

Signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev,

the treaty puts no restrictions on other major military actors like China.

Yes, indeed there are certain difficulties with this treaty, Putin said.

Other countries possessing short and intermediaterange missiles are not

party to it.

But what prevents (us) from starting talks on their accession to the

existing treaty or starting negotiating the parameters of a new treaty? he

said.

He reiterated the threat that Russia would have to retaliate if the United

States ditched the treaty.

Whatever the complaints about the treaty, in current conditions it plays a

stabilising role, works to support a certain level of predictability and

restraint in the military sphere.

This month Putin said about a dozen countries were probably producing mid

range missiles of the type banned by the INF treaty.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)