US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command. Photo: AFP
US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command. Photo: AFP

Adm. Harry Harris, the chief of the US Pacific Command, reportedly said in Washington on Wednesday that the US is having a hard time keeping up with China’s ground-based missile development due to arms limitation treaties that it’s signed with Russia.

Harris, who’s been nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia, said the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia that helped end the Cold War was “self-limiting” because “over 90 percent of China’s ground-based missiles would violate the treaty.” China isn’t a signatory to the INF and isn’t required to follow its provisions.

Harris made the comments in testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee.

The treaty Harris alluded to bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Both the US and Russia have alternately accused the other of violating the pact.

USNI News noted that while Harris didn’t call on the US to pull out of the treaty, “his pointed comments will no doubt be noted both in Moscow and Beijing, as the Pentagon moves out on a new military buildup to counter the technological military advances being made by those two countries.”

Harris said he was especially concerned about China’s advances in hypersonic missiles which he said could strike US aircraft carriers and Pacific bases almost before they could be detected on radar.

“We need to continue to pursue that in a most aggressive way,” and “develop our own hypersonic offensive weapons,” Harris was quoted as saying.

The Pentagon has issued a new 2018 National Security Strategy and a 2018 Nuclear Posture Review in the last month that outline steps for dealing with what it terms a growing threat from Russia and China.

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