EU ‘extremely worried’ about fate of nuclear treaty

The EU is worried about the fate of the US-Russia nuclear control treaty. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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EU ‘extremely worried’ about fate of nuclear treaty

  • Last month, Washington announced it was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
  • The treaty ended a nuclear build-up in Europe triggered by Moscow’s deployment of SS-20 missiles targeting Western European capitals

BRUSSELS: The EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said Tuesday she was “extremely worried” about the fate of a major US-Russia nuclear missile control treaty, warning the security of Europe could be at risk.
Last month, Washington announced it was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) over Russia’s deployment of a missile system that Western powers say breaches the 1987 accord.
The Kremlin has fired off warnings of a new arms race, and as she convened a meeting of EU defense ministers Mogherini expressed concern, calling for talks to maintain the agreement.
“If we go toward the dismantling of this agreement, Europe’s security is to be put at risk and we do not want to see European territory go back to being a battlefield for other powers as it has been for so long in the past,” she told reporters.
“We don’t want to go back to those kind of tensions, to that kind of situation and we still hope there is a space for saving the agreement and implementing it,” she said.
While US President Donald Trump’s administration has signalled it will withdraw from the treaty, it has not taken steps to put the decision into practice.
The INF treaty, signed by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ended a nuclear build-up in Europe triggered by Moscow’s deployment of SS-20 missiles targeting Western European capitals.
The US and NATO say Russia’s 9M729 missile system, also known by the designation SSC-8, breaches the treaty, which prohibits ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
Washington says repeated attempts to persuade Russia to come back into compliance since 2013 have been met with silence or obfuscation.
Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the INF treaty during a brief conversation at World War I centenary events in Paris last week.


US arrests religious leaders, activists at border protest

Updated 1 min 23 sec ago
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US arrests religious leaders, activists at border protest

SAN DIEGO : Kneeling in front of riot police, 32 religious leaders and activists were arrested at the US border fence in San Diego on Monday during a protest to support the Central American migrant caravan.
More than 400 demonstrators, many leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, sought a halt to detention and deportation of migrants and for the United States to welcome the caravan that arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in November.
Singing and praying, religious leaders moved forward in lines of four to six, some wearing T-shirts reading, “Love Knows No Borders.” They were handcuffed and led away by federal agents upon entering a restricted area in front of the fence.
“As a Quaker who believes in our shared humanity...We’re calling on the US to respect the rights of migrants,” said Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, which has run a week of actions to back migrants.
US Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco said 31 people were arrested by Federal Protective Services for trespassing and one was arrested by Border Patrol for assaulting an agent.
The arrests marked the second confrontation with US authorities since the caravan reached Tijuana. US Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at migrants on Nov. 25 after they said they had stones thrown at them.
Thousands of migrants are living in crowded shelters and encampments in Tijuana after traveling from Central America to escape poverty and violence. They may have to wait weeks or months to claim asylum at the US border.
Data released on Monday by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed asylum claims at the US-Mexico border rose 67 percent in the 2018 fiscal year from a year earlier.
US immigration officials say these claims, most of which are accepted, exploit a legal loophole allowing migrants to enter the United States while they await a court hearing on their asylum case.
“As the majority of these claims will not be successful when they are adjudicated by an immigration court, we need Congress to act to address these vulnerabilities,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.
Protest leaders said President Donald Trump had portrayed the caravan as a security threat to advance his “anti-immigrant” agenda and further restrict migrants’ ability to seek asylum.
A US judge in November blocked Trump’s proclamation to bar migrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally from seeking asylum.