NATO does not want new nuclear arms race: alliance chief

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks to journalists during a news conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (AP)
Updated 24 October 2018
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NATO does not want new nuclear arms race: alliance chief

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday he did not see the alliance’s member states deploying more nuclear weapons in Europe in response to a new Russian missile program.
“We don’t want a new Cold War,” the alliance’s secretary general told reporters. “We don’t want a new arms race.
“And I don’t foresee that (NATO) allies will deploy more nuclear weapons in Europe as a response to the new Russian missile,” he added.
“But I see a need — and that is what is going on in NATO — a need to assess the implications of the new Russian missile for our security.”
Stoltenberg was speaking after US President Donald Trump said Monday he was ready to build up the US nuclear arsenal in response to Russia’s SSC-8 missile program (known in Russia as the 9M729).
Already Saturday, Trump had announced the US was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), arguing that Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles violated the 1987 accord.
On Monday, the European Commission urged Washington and Moscow to keep talking to preserve the treaty — and Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump’s decision did not have unanimous support among his NATO allies.
But he added: “Russia has now admitted that they are developing and fielding a new missile, the SSC-8. So the problem, the threat, the challenge, is Russian behavior...
“We cannot have a Treaty between two parties that is only respected by one of them. Russia needed to comply in a transparent, viable way,” he said.
NATO ambassadors would meet to discuss the implications of the Russian missile program, said Stoltenberg. They were also trying to organize a meeting between the NATO Council and Russia, he added.
Growing tensions over the nuclear treaty overshadowed a news conference originally scheduled to give details of NATO’s Trident Juncture military exercise in Norway, its largest since the end of the Cold War.
Russia had been invited to observe the exercise “as long as they behave professionally and avoid dangerous situations and behavior,” said Stoltenberg.
Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has violated the INF Treaty, arguing that in fact it is the United States that has not respected its terms.
Signed in 1987 by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, it bans missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers).


‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

Updated 22 min 55 sec ago
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‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

  • A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide”
  • Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers

YANGON: Myanmar must “show results” to convince Rohingya refugees to return, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday at the end of his first visit to Myanmar since the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
A brutal military campaign in western Rakhine state forced some 740,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.
Around one million Rohingya now languish in sprawling refugee camps from various waves of persecution.
A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has started preliminary investigations.
During his visit Grandi spoke with both Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist communities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence.
He also held discussions with officials in capital Naypyidaw, including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing all talks as “constructive.”
“My message is: ‘please accelerate’, because it has been very slow in the implementation in this first year. We need to show results,” he told AFP in an interview in Yangon.
“This is not enough to convince people to come back,” he said.
Grandi visited the camps in Bangladesh in April.
The two countries have signed a repatriation agreement but so far virtually no refugees have returned, fearing for their safety and unconvinced they will be granted citizenship.
Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers and the community has had its rights eroded over decades.
Gaining independent access to northern Rakhine is difficult with most journalists, observers and diplomats only allowed on brief chaperoned visits.
Grandi defended the UNHCR’s involvement in a plan by the Bangladeshi government to move some 100,000 refugees onto low-lying island Bhashan Char.
The area in the Bay of Bengal is prone to flooding and cyclones.
Rights groups oppose the scheme that has also so far been universally rejected by the Rohingya themselves.
The refugee agency must be “involved” to have the necessary information in order to take a stance on the issue, Grandi said.
“We’re still at that stage, no more than that.”
He also visited camps near Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, where nearly 130,000 Rohingya have been confined since a previous bout of violence in 2012.
Myanmar has announced it will close the camps but many are skeptical the displaced will enjoy more freedoms.
Grandi said the UNHCR would reconsider its role in providing services if conditions did not substantially improve.
“To simply transform the camps, upgrade the camps, upgrade the houses, for example, but leave them in the same situation will not be a solution,” he said.