China has warned the United States that it would take countermeasures if the US goes ahead with its plans to deploy ground-based missiles in the Asia Pacific region.
This statement came after US Defense Secretary has said that the US was now free to deploy the weapons following its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) treaty with Russia.
The rise of an assertive China in the region has worried traditional US allies such as Australia and New Zealand.Further,China’s actions in the South China Sea have also alarmed neighbours who are competing for territorial claims to this strategic waterway.
However,experts have said that the most likely location for deployment of missiles by the US will be the island of Guam which hosts significant US military facilities.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) Treaty came into force in 1988. It banned both the Soviet Union(Russia) and the US from developing and deploying land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.However,treaty did not apply to air-or sea-launched missiles.
The agreement was signed to de-escalate tensions as both countries had dozens of such missiles deployed, posing a risk of an accidental nuclear exchange.