US to withdraw from nuclear arms control treaty
The United States will pull out of a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, the Trump administration announced Friday, ending a cornerstone Cold War agreement on grounds that Russian violations render it moot.
Iran Press/America: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is suspending participation in the agreement, starting a six-month countdown to a final U.S. withdrawal. That leaves a slim chance that Russia could end missile programs widely seen as a violation, salvaging the treaty. The United States accuses Moscow of violating the agreement since 2014.
“For years, Russia has violated the terms of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty without remorse,” Pompeo said, adding that the United States has continued to meet its obligations while seeking to get Moscow to come into compliance, Reuters reported.
“When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded and our security is so threatened, we must respond,” he added.
In a statement, President Trump said the onus is on Russia.
“The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions,” Trump said. “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
Earlier Friday, the Kremlin said it expected official notification of the US withdrawal .
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday that Russia greets the news with much regret.
The Associated Press quoted Peskov as saying that Washington has been “unwilling to hold any substantial talks” with Moscow to save the treaty.
Russia has said it is not violating the treaty and that its 9M729 missile has a range of less than 500 kilometers (311 miles). But in recent weeks, Russian officials said they were certain that the United States would exit the treaty.
Russia has warned that it would respond in kind if the United States were to deploy new intermediate-range missiles — potentially leading to a new nuclear buildup in Europe reminiscent of the Cold War.
“There is no doubt that the Americans will quit the treaty in the end,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Russian television Thursday, according to the Interfax news agency. “That would deal a heavy blow to the current system of international arms control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
Speaking at the State Department, Pompeo said the United States would continue diplomatic efforts.
“We’ll continue to have conversations with them. We hope they’ll come back into compliance,” Pompeo said. “We’ve had conversations at every level, at senior levels, at technical levels. We’ve had conversations about the nature of these systems. There’s no mistaking that the Russians have chosen not to comply with this treaty.”
The Trump administration has signaled for months that it wants to end the agreement covering ground-based nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered alliance backing for the U.S. move, saying that it is Russia’s responsibility to start complying with the treaty again.
“Russia is in material breach of the #INFTreaty & must use next 6 months to return to full & verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise. #NATO fully supports the US suspension & notification of withdrawal from the Treaty,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter. 105