Russia could quickly resume missile output: general
( Reuters ) - Russia is capable of quickly resuming production of short and medium-range nuclear missiles, the commander of Russia's rocket forces said on Friday.
"If there is a political decision to make such a class of missile, then it is obvious that they will be made in Russia in the near future because we have everything we need," Colonel- General Nikolai Solovtsov was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.
"Today we are in (arms control) agreements so we act strictly within those agreements."
President Vladimir Putin told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this month that Russia would find it difficult to stay in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in December 1987.
That treaty, a milestone in arms control, bound Washington and Moscow to destroy all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 km (300 to 3,300 miles). It led to the scrapping of 2,692 missiles in total.
Russian military officials and politicians now describe the INF treaty as a Cold War relic because it began life as a bilateral treaty limiting only the United States and Russia, plus most of the successor countries to the Soviet Union.
Other countries such as North Korea, Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan have since started building arsenals of intermediate-range missiles. Although some possess nuclear weapons, none of them is constrained by the INF treaty.
Solovtsov also said that by the end of the year, Russia would deploy seven more of its new Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile complexes and test at least five more intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Putin has hiked arms spending to restore Russia's military capability after years of neglect during the chaotic 1990s. He says Moscow plans new types of nuclear weapons as part of its wider plan to strengthen its defenses against emerging threats.
Putin says the West has taken advantage of Russia's willingness to strike arms deals in the 1990s to strengthen its defenses in subsequent years at Moscow's expense.
He has also opposed U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe and announced plans to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE).