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October 21, 2019
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US missile tests: Russia, China seek Security Council meeting

NEW YORK: Russia and China have sought United Nations Security Council meeting over “statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles.”

Moscow and Beijing want to convene the 15-member council under the agenda item “threats to international peace and security”.

The request for the meeting also sought the UN disarmament affairs chief Izumi Nakamitsu brief the meeting.

On Monday, the United States defence department announced that it had tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500km of flight.

The test was first since the United States pulled out Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked in a Fox News Channel interview on Wednesday whether the test was aimed at sending a message to China, Russia or North Korea and indicated that the main concern was China.

“We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to deter Chinese bad behaviour by having our own capability to be able to strike at intermediate ranges,” he said.

Esper said on a visit to Australia this month he was in favour of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon.

Esper was also asked about a rocket test accident in Russia this month which US officials believe was associated with the Kremlin’s hypersonic cruise missile programme.

“Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal to deal with the United States,” he said, adding that all such new weapons would have to be included in any future strategic arms reduction treaty.

“Right now Russia has possibly nuclear-tipped … INF-range cruise missiles facing toward Europe, and that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the United States was in a position to deploy a new land-based cruise missile in Romania and Poland, a scenario he considered a threat that Moscow would need to respond to.

The United States has said it has no imminent plans to deploy new land-based missiles in Europe.