Over five years ago we titled in the Manifesto (9 June 2015) “Are missiles returning to Comiso?”. This hypothesis was ignored by the entire political spectrum and dismissed by some self-styled expert as “alarmist”. The alarm, unfortunately, was well founded.
A few days ago, on November 6, Lockheed Martin (the same company that produces the F-35s) signed a first $ 340 million contract with the US Army for the production of medium-range missiles, including nuclear warheads, designed to be installed in Europe.
Missiles of this category (with a ground base and range between 500 and 5500 km) had been prohibited by the INF Treaty, signed in 1987 by Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan: it had eliminated the Pershing 2 nuclear ballistic missiles, deployed by the United States in Germany Western, and the nuclear cruise Tomahawk ones, deployed by the United States in Italy (in Comiso), Great Britain, West Germany, Belgium and Holland, and at the same time the SS-20 ballistic missiles deployed by the Soviet Union on its territory.
In 2014, the Obama administration accused Russia, without any evidence, of having tested a cruise missile (acronym 9M729) of the category prohibited by the Treaty and, in 2015, announced that “faced with the violation of the Inf , the United States is considering the deployment of ground-based missiles in Europe ”.
The baton then passed to the Trump administration, which in 2019 decided the withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty, accusing Russia of having “deliberately violated” it.
After some missile tests, Lockheed Martin was commissioned to build a cruise missile derived from the Tomahawk and a ballistic missile derived from Raytheon’s SM-6. According to the contract, the two missiles will be operational in 2023: therefore ready to be installed in Europe in two years.
The geographic factor must be kept in mind: while a medium-range US nuclear ballistic missile launched from Europe can hit Moscow after a few minutes, a similar missile launched by Russia can hit European capitals, but not Washington. Reversing the scenario, it is as if Russia deploys medium range nuclear missiles in Mexico.
It should also be noted that the SM-6, Raytheon specifies, performs the function of “three missiles in one”: anti-aircraft, anti-missile and attack. The nuclear missile derived from the SM-6 will therefore be able to be used by the US “shield” ships and land installations in Europe whose launch tubes, Lockheed Martin specifies, can launch “missiles for all missions”.
In a statement of October 26, 2020, President Putin reaffirms the validity of the INF Treaty, calling the US withdrawal, and Russia’s commitment not to deploy similar missiles as a “grave mistake”, until the US deploys its forces close to the its territory. It therefore proposes to the NATO countries a “mutual moratorium” and “mutual verification measures”, ie inspections in the reciprocal missile installations.
The Russian proposal was ignored by NATO. Its secretary general Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on 10 November that “in such an uncertain world, nuclear weapons continue to play a vital role in preserving peace”.