Pentagon chief Mark Esper said the day after the end of the INF treaty that he favored the early deployment of new missiles in Asia, Reuters reported.
“Yeah, I would like to,” Esper said, when asked whether he was considering placing such missiles in Asia.
“I would prefer months … but these things tend to take longer than you expect,” he told reporters traveling with him to Sydney when asked about a timeline for when the missiles could be deployed.
“I don’t see an arms race happening, I do see us taking proactive measures to develop a capability that we need for both the European theater and certainly this theater,” Esper said, referring to the Asia-Pacific region.
While no decisions have been made, the United States could theoretically put easier-to-hide, road-mobile conventional missiles in places like Guam.
Esper did not say where in Asia he was considering placing missiles, but he is expected to meet senior regional leaders during his visit to Asia.
On August 2, the INF treaty ceased to apply. Earlier this year, Washington announced its unilateral withdrawal from the deal, accusing Russia of its continued violation. Moscow has denied all charges.
In early July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law suspending the treaty. Russia has repeatedly stated that it fully complies with the terms of the INF treaty. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that Moscow has some very serious questions about compliance by the Americans.
Last treaty on limitations
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Novo START), signed in 2010, remains the only existing arms-limitation treaty between Russia and the United States.
The agreement expires in February 2021 and, so far, the US government has not yet announced whether Washington intends to extend it. Earlier, US Homeland Security presidential adviser John Bolton said the New START is unlikely to be extended because it has shortcomings. For its part, Russia has repeatedly stated that it is willing to discuss it.
US President Donald Trump said he would like to draw up a new trilateral nuclear agreement between Russia, China and the United States. However, this idea was rejected in Beijing.