Russia is rejecting U.S. allegations that it has violated a landmark 1987 arms-control accord, the Associated Press reports.
The newly released U.S. State Department's 2014 report on how well nations are fulfilling their arms-control commitments said Moscow had been determined to be violating the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibits both the United States and Russia from testing, possessing or deploying cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles. The source of the alleged infraction is a ground-launched cruise missile that Russia is thought to have begun testing in 2008.
"We're going to hold them to living up to the commitments that they've made," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The Obama administration said it first notified Moscow of its treaty-violation concerns in 2013. "It is fair for you to conclude that their response to our concerns was wholly unsatisfactory," Earnest said.
Former Russian Lt. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzhinsky, who previously led the defense ministry's international department, accused Washington of seeking to capitalize on the current poor climate of East-West relations, which have deeply soured over continued Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.
"Now, when an information war is being waged against Russia, the old accusations are being used again," the ex-general was quoted by the state news agency Interfax as saying. He said U.S. concerns about INF compliance go back to 2009.
Buzhinsky also accused the United States of not honoring the INF accord because some of the missile targets the U.S. military uses in missile intercept tests have ranges that are forbidden by the treaty.
Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the United States fully adheres to the requirements of the INF pact.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta suggested the Kremlin might respond to the U.S. accusation by unilaterally withdrawing from the treaty, the London Guardian reported on Tuesday.
"The present situation of a new cold war in Europe ... it's a situation in which Russia can abrogate the 1987 treaty, and the possibilities are rather high," Felgenhauer said.
Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday sought to use the political furor kicked up over the INF treaty to urge the speedy confirmation of a longtime department official to a position where he would be overseeing treaty verification and compliance.
"The administration will work to resolve the compliance issues outlined in the report through bilateral and multilateral means," Psaki said during a press briefing. "A step that can be taken right away by the Senate is the confirmation of Frank Rose, who has been nominated to be assistant secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. ... It is vitally important that he is confirmed without further delay."
Rose was first nominated more than a year ago.