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Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China

Westlake Legal Group 01dc-missiles1-facebookJumbo U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Nuclear Weapons China Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.

But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.

The moves by Washington have elicited concern that the United States may be on the precipice of a new arms race, especially because the one major remaining arms control treaty with Russia, a far larger one called New START, appears on life support, unlikely to be renewed when it expires in less than two years.

At a moment when the potential for nuclear confrontations with North Korea and Iran is rising, the American decision to abandon the 32-year-old treaty has prompted new worries in Europe and Asia, and warnings that echo an era that once seemed banished to the history books. The resurgence of nuclear geopolitics was evident in the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, when presidential hopefuls grappled with whether the United States should renounce “first use” of nuclear weapons in any future conflict.

“The United States and Russia are now in a state of strategic instability,” Ernest J. Moniz, the former energy secretary, and Sam Nunn, the former Georgia senator who helped draft the legislation that funded the drastic reduction in former Soviet nuclear forces, write in a coming article in Foreign Affairs ominously titled “The Return to Doomsday.” “Not since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has the risk of a U.S.-Russian confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons been as high as it is today. Yet unlike during the Cold War, both sides seem willfully blind to the peril.”

Others are less concerned about the implications with Russia, noting that the treaty is limited, covering only a narrow class of missiles.

President Barack Obama considered terminating the treaty when Moscow was first accused of violating its terms. On Thursday, just as his aides were confirming the American withdrawal and blaming Russia for the breakdown, President Trump told reporters that Russia “would like to do something on a nuclear treaty” and added later, “So would I.” But he appeared to be discussing a broader treaty that would involve China — which has said it has no intention of negotiating a limit on its arsenal.

In fact, the administration has argued that China is one reason Mr. Trump decided to exit the I.N.F. treaty. Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland. When the treaty went into effect in 1987, China’s missile fleet was judged so rudimentary that it was not even a consideration.

Today hundreds of missiles in southeast China are within range of Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island supported by the United States. Missiles at other sites can hit Japan and India, and there are Chinese missiles that can strike the United States territory of Guam and other potential targets in what American strategists call the second-island chain.

“Unilateral constraint was a losing proposition: China developed the world’s foremost force of missiles precisely within the ranges that I.N.F. would prohibit,” said Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College. “So this increasingly antiquated treaty had no future.”

Until now, the Trump administration has held off on testing new missiles that would violate the treaty; under its terms, even testing is prohibited. But that stricture lifts on Friday, and the first test of new American intermediate-range missiles is likely to begin within weeks, according to American officials familiar with the Pentagon’s plans.

The first, perhaps as early as this month, is expected to be a test of a version of a common, sea-launched cruise missile, the Tomahawk. It would be modified to be fired from the ground. (The treaty prohibited intermediate-range ground-launched missiles, but not missiles launched from ships or airplanes.) If successful, officials say, the first ground-launched cruise missiles could be deployed within 18 months or so — if the United States can find a country willing to house them.

That would be followed by a test of a new mobile, ground-launched ballistic missile with a range of 1,800 to 2,500 miles, before the end of the year. But that would be an entirely new missile, and it is not likely to be deployed for another five years or so — meaning the very end of the Trump presidency, if he is re-elected.

But the question is where to deploy them. “I don’t think the Europeans want to host them,” Gary Samore, the director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and the chief nuclear strategist at the National Security Council under Mr. Obama, said on Thursday. In Asia, he noted, the two countries where it would make most sense to deploy the missiles would be Japan and South Korea, though any move to put the missiles there could infuriate China.

“The real question is where and whether or not there would be pushback,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The most obvious place is someplace in Japan.”

Mr. Samore noted that the fate of New START, which governs the strategic weapons the United States and Russia have deployed, “is much more important than I.N.F.” Senior military officials agree, but have added that once the I.N.F. treaty dies, it is hard to imagine a negotiation to renew New START, which expires in February 2021, right after the next presidential inauguration.

Even if it is renewed, Mr. Samore noted that in coming years, the source of strategic instability may not come just from nuclear weapons but also “from space weapons, artificial intelligence and cyber — and there we have no restraints.”

But it is China’s rocket forces that have focused the attention of the Pentagon and the Trump administration. In 2017, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., then the head of United States Pacific Command, said in congressional testimony that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force controls the “largest and most diverse missile force in the world, with an inventory of more than 2,000 ballistic and cruise missiles.” He pointed out that the United States capability lagged because of its adherence to the treaty with Russia, and that if China were a signatory, 95 percent of its missiles would be in violation.

But deploying a counterforce to Taiwan would be too provocative, officials say, and Japan may have hesitations: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have to consider the blow that would result to relations between Beijing and Tokyo, which have been improving.

China’s fury at deployment of American ground-based missiles in an Asian nation probably would be even greater than its reaction in 2016 and 2017 to plans to install an American antimissile system in South Korea.

For more than a year after the announcement of the deployment, Beijing denounced the move and called for a wide boycott of products from South Korea, whose companies then suffered. The Americans began deploying the system, commonly known as THAAD, in March 2017, and Beijing did not relent on its actions against South Korea until that October. Communist Party leaders feared the United States was laying the groundwork for an expansive antimissile system across Asia.

Chinese officials have also balked at any attempt to limit their missiles with a new treaty, arguing that the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia are much larger and deadlier.

“The Trump idea of a trilateral arms control agreement is not realistic,” Mr. Samore said. “The Chinese are not going to codify an inferior number of weapons compared to the United States and Russia. And Russia and the U.S. won’t give China equal status.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal

Westlake Legal Group merlin_148265940_3d34f4ca-6938-496a-86fd-8da1c7681316-facebookJumbo As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Treaties tax evasion Mnuchin, Steven T International Trade and World Market Income Tax Great Britain Google Inc France Federal Taxes (US) Facebook Inc Customs (Tariff) Corporations Corporate Taxes Amazon.com Inc

WASHINGTON — For most of the 21st century, wealthy nations have engaged in a race to the bottom on corporate taxes, cutting rates in an effort to poach business activity across borders. Very quickly, that script has flipped.

Developed countries are now moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens’ daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there.

France moved on Thursday to become the first country to impose a so-called digital tax of 3 percent on the revenue companies earn from providing digital services to French users. It would apply to large companies, numbering more than two dozen, with robust annual sales in France, including United States-based Facebook, Google and Amazon. British leaders also detailed plans on Thursday to impose a similar tax, of 2 percent, on tech giants. And the European Union has also been mulling a digital tax.

The digital revenue grab is pitting traditional allies against one another, threatening to set off a cascade of tax increases and tariffs unless political and economic leaders work out a multinational agreement to avert them. Late Wednesday, the Trump administration said it would pursue an investigation into whether France’s tech tax amounted to an unfair trade practice that could be punishable with retaliatory tariffs. Administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have also raised concerns about Britain’s move.

The French tax, which would exact a bigger toll on foreign companies than French ones, has been denounced by the American tech industry, along with Democratic and Republican leaders, who are looking for ways to avoid such one-off decisions by more closely coordinating international digital tax arrangements.

Administration officials have tried to shape an effort being led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to broker an international system for taxing digital profits. A lobbying flurry has broken out in Washington to influence the negotiations.

And in its attempts to show international leadership — and not go it alone, as Mr. Trump has in his trade wars with China and other partners — the administration is pushing the Senate to vote next week on a package of long-foundering updates to international tax treaties, which could demonstrate to allies that it is serious about leading the effort to broker a digital armistice.

Countries have competed to reduce corporate tax rates, and attract business activity both physically and on paper, for two decades. The average rate tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has fallen seven percentage points since 2000, to just over 21 percent today. France and the United States both cut rates substantially for 2018, with Mr. Trump’s signature tax cuts bringing the American rate of 21 percent right to the international average.

Technology companies’ revenue has surged worldwide, but not their tax payments, prompting many wealthy governments to complain that digital businesses are not paying their fair share. The European Union calculates that digital company revenue is growing more than four times as fast as revenue for other multinational companies, partly from ad sales to European consumers.

Because the firms have relatively light physical presences in Europe, they benefit from the current system, which taxes companies based on where their operations and assets are — and not where their sales are generated. The European Union has said this has allowed tech companies to pay less than half the effective tax rate of other multinationals, and European leaders want to tax them in a way that takes into account where their users are.

Mr. Mnuchin has spent much of his time discussing the issue at international forums with finance ministers from around the world.

During meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in April, Mr. Mnuchin said it was a “priority” to find an international solution, and he pressed France and Britain to abandon their own tax plans once a compromise is reached.

At the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Japan in June, Mr. Mnuchin underscored his concerns, and the finance ministers agreed in their communiqué to work toward finding a common set of rules to close loopholes that global technology companies have been using to reduce their tax bills.

“I’m not in favor of the current digital tax that has been proposed by France and the U.K.,” Mr. Mnuchin said, warning a system of unilateral digital taxes would not work. “We have significant concerns with both of those.”

The United States has called for a tax that is based on companies’ income, not sales, and said specific industries should not be singled out with a different standard. The Treasury secretary has dispatched his deputy, Justin Muzinich, to help broker an agreement. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a “road map” in May, agreed to by nearly 130 countries, toward finding agreement on a global digital tax plan.

France has said that it will repeal its tax once a group agreement is reached. The subject will come up again when finance minsters gather in Chantilly, France, for the summit of the Group of 7 industrialized nations next week. Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has suggested that France’s tax will help accelerate an international pact.

“We are willing, especially with Steven Mnuchin, to give new impetus during the G7 in Chantilly on the very specific topic of minimum taxation,” Mr. Le Maire said in an interview last month.

The Treasury Department said in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that it is considering a range of responses to the French tax.

“We have and will continue to urge France to forbear from such unilateral actions and join with us in an intensive effort to reach a comprehensive, multilateral solution,” wrote Kimberly J. Pinter, deputy assistant secretary in Treasury’s office of legislative affairs.

As negotiations persist, administration officials and Republican Senate leaders have worked together to break a decade-long logjam on updating international tax treaties, some of which were negotiated in the early years of the Obama administration.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, moved on Thursday to set up a vote on the quartet of treaties next week, in what would be a bipartisan victory for multinational companies. The package is expected to succeed in garnering the support of two-thirds of senators voting on the issue.

The so-called tax protocols would update existing tax treaties with Spain, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland. They would allow companies with operations in those countries to avoid some previous tax penalties for transferring money to their operations abroad, in a provision proponents say would encourage multinationals to invest more in the United States. They would also update the existing treaties to allow for more detailed sharing of information among countries on individual and corporate taxpayers.

The treaties were held up for years by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who objected to that information sharing. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overrode his complaints and voted to advance the treaties last month.

A host of large and powerful trade groups, including the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Business Roundtable, has been urging Senate leaders to approve the measures. “Tax treaties help the U.S. economy by allowing U.S. companies to more efficiently conduct their businesses abroad and by making the U.S. more hospitable to foreign investment,” the groups wrote this spring in a letter to Senator Jim Risch, the Idaho Republican who leads the Foreign Relations Committee.

One of the companies that stands to benefit is a Spanish-owned steel maker with a large plant in Kentucky, North American Stainless, which has been pushing Mr. McConnell and other senators to schedule a vote.

North American Stainless is the subsidiary of Acerinox, and employs more than 1,300 workers in Kentucky. A company executive told a Senate panel in 2014 that ratifying the tax protocol with Spain could boost Acerinox’s investments in Kentucky, by ending a 10 percent tax on dividend payments from the American subsidiary to the parent company.

In pushing for the tax treaties, Treasury officials have argued that they would promote fair and efficient taxation by the United States and treaty partners, reduce the risk of double taxation and help combat tax evasion by improving the flow of information among tax authorities.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the tax treaties were a priority for Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. McConnell and that the Senate’s bipartisan work on the issue would fuel economic growth.

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NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia

BRUSSELS — NATO military officials are exploring whether to upgrade their defenses to make them capable of shooting down newly deployed Russian intermediate-range nuclear missiles after a landmark arms treaty dissolves next month, according to three European officials.

Any change to the stated mission of NATO’s current missile defense system — aimed at threats from outside the region, like Iran — would probably divide the alliance’s member countries and enrage Russia, which has long said it views NATO’s missile defense site in Romania and one under construction in Poland as a threat to its nuclear arsenal and a source of instability in Europe.

“It would be a point of no return with the Russians,” said Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon official and expert on the alliance. “It would be a real escalation.”

The United States announced in February its intention to withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 in the waning years of the Cold War, citing Moscow’s years of violations, a step the NATO alliance supported.

The treaty, which prohibits missiles with a range of 310 to 3,420 miles from Europe, will be terminated on Aug. 2 unless Moscow and Washington come to agreement to revive it in the next few weeks.

NATO ambassadors will make one last attempt to push Russia to withdraw its new cruise missiles and revive the treaty on Friday in Brussels.

Discussions about new missile defense measures are at their earliest stages, officials cautioned. NATO’s chief spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, denied that any studies of the feasibility of upgrading the ballistic missile defenses were underway. She said the alliance had repeatedly made clear that the existing ballistic missile defense system “is neither designed nor directed against Russia.”

But the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last week without revealing details. And given the rising threat of the Russian cruise missiles, NATO members are expected to order the alliance to study defense options, either after the October defense ministers’ meeting or the December leaders’ summit, a senior alliance official said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157431471_e2f75b17-e6b1-46f5-8e59-e1012d158b25-articleLarge NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Treaties Russia Nuclear Weapons North Atlantic Treaty Organization Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Europe Eastern Europe Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

The NATO Aegis defense system in Romania in 2016. The systems there and in Poland are currently incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles.CreditKay Nietfeld/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

Such an order would require all 29 allies to agree to it. But some officials think that if the treaty ends, the allies will at least be willing to examine the options. The senior official said that if the allies ultimately could not agree on shifting the mission of the ballistic missile defense sites, they may be open to a compromise that would introduce new systems to defend against Russian cruise missiles.

The push for improved defenses is fueled by Russia’s fielding of a new class of missiles as well as the expected demise of the treaty — a casualty of deteriorating relations between Russia and the United States. Eastern European countries, particularly Poland and the Baltic states, believe they are under growing threat of nuclear bullying by Moscow and have been eager to see the alliance develop new defenses.

Based on intelligence from multiple allied agencies, NATO countries have forged a consensus that the new Russian nuclear-capable cruise missiles pose a threat. The missiles, some American and European analysts fear, could give Moscow significant leverage, using the threat of attack to force other countries to de-escalate or give in to Russian demands during a crisis.

The relationship between Russia and the West has spiraled downward since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia’s destabilization of Ukraine forced the alliance to reinforce its eastern flank with new troop deployments and military exercises. Moscow responded with its own military upgrades, ultimately including the deployment of a new class of ground-based cruise missiles that the West said violated the I.N.F. treaty. Russia’s election interference, its intervention in Syria and the attempted poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer in Britain further heightened tensions.

Any move by NATO to redirect its missile defenses or expand its system with new capabilities could be a tipping point. Russians have never believed the alliance’s denials that its interceptor system would not eventually be used to shoot down Russian missiles. The system has remained a persistent irritant for Moscow, which questioned why the alliance still needed it after Iran agreed in 2015 to pause its nuclear enrichment program and threatened to direct missiles at the alliance interceptor sites.

Officials at Russia’s NATO embassy did not return requests for comment.

Last week, allied defense ministers approved an examination of potential responses to the Russian deployment of so-called SSC-8 cruise missiles, the weapon NATO accuses Moscow of deploying in violation of the treaty, according to three NATO officials. They include expanding existing deterrence exercises and publicizing the alliance’s nuclear exercises, which are highly secretive. Drawing more attention to the allied nuclear exercises and arsenal would help deter Moscow’s use of its own weapons, some officials think.

NATO will probably need to examine more broadly what defenses it needs against the cruise missiles. Such work, if approved this year, would include exploring whether it can upgrade its Aegis Ashore radar and interceptor sites in Romania and Poland and looking at new radar or air defense capabilities against the cruise missiles.

Upgrading existing ballistic missile defense capabilities, including its two Aegis Ashore sites, would be complex. The NATO Aegis systems in Romania and Poland are incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles. And given their close positions to Russia, the systems have significantly less time to detect, lock onto and attempt to intercept the missiles.

The United States Missile Defense Agency has examined how existing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems could be upgrade with new radar, software and interceptors to allow them to strike intermediate ballistic missiles and potentially cruise missiles, according to current and former officials briefed on the discussions.

Newer technologies like high-velocity projectiles and directed-energy lasers are likely to provide a far better defense long term, experts said. Ballistic missile defenses intercept missiles high in the atmosphere, while cruise missiles fly relatively low to the ground.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, has said the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses.CreditVirginia Mayo/Associated Press

Fielding new systems to defend against a cruise missile threat, rather than upgrading the existing ballistic missile defense, may also prove more politically palatable. “If NATO is to update its systems, it may undermine its yearslong claim that the launchers were never meant to counter Russia,” said Bruno Lété, a defense analyst in the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

But many Europeans see themselves as in the line of fire with the new Russian cruise missile deployments, he said. “There is a clear incentive for NATO to see if they can upgrade the existing systems to counter Russian intermediary missiles,” Mr. Lété said. “From a military perspective, this would be a relatively simple, decisive and cost-effective step.”

Russian military doctrine, according to American and European military strategists, is increasingly focused on using limited nuclear strikes to quickly end a potential conflict in Moscow’s favor. Such a use of nuclear weapons for a battlefield effect is unthinkable to European politicians and has made some allied officials more open to examining the practicality of using the existing missile defense system to defend against Russia.

“We want to make sure the Russians don’t want to exercise nuclear blackmail, and missile defense is the way to take away that intimidation, to deter that intimidation,” Mr. Townsend said.

American officials have focused on trying to deter Russian intermediate-range missiles by quickly developing their own ground-launched cruise missile, a class the I.N.F. treaty has banned. Many in the alliance oppose deploying new offensive weapons. NATO planners are not expecting a directive to add offensive capabilities, only to expand defensive measures, the senior allied official said.

Since April, the Aegis site in Romania has been undergoing an upgrade. Officials said it was long planned and did not involve recalibrating the system.

If the alliance wants to counter Russian cruise missiles, it may make more sense to deploy new technologies like directed-energy lasers, microwaves or electronic warfare measures, said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“We have invested in ballistic missile defenses, but frankly the cruise missile threat is a growing threat and we just haven’t fielded the capabilities to deal with it,” Mr. Gunzinger said.

Even if the alliance opts not to upgrade its Aegis Ashore sites, Mr. Gunzinger said, Russia’s new weapons will force it to field new air and missile defenses. Without them, it would be difficult to reinforce its front-line troops during a conflict, he said.

“Deterring Russia is going to take a different posture in Europe,” Mr. Gunzinger said. “It will take air and missile defenses to counter their salvos, it will take electronic warfare capabilities, it will take long-range precision strike.”

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