USA to suspend historic Cold War missile treaty with Russian Federation

Feb 02, 2019, 00:41
USA to suspend historic Cold War missile treaty with Russian Federation

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Russian Federation in December that it has two months to cease its alleged violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"For too long", President Donald Trump said in a written statement issued by the White House, Russia has violated the treaty "with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops overseas".

It follows years of unresolved disputes over Russian compliance with the 1987 pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty.

In a written statement, Trump said that the United States would be suspending its compliance with the 1987 treaty on Saturday, and would serve formal notice that it would withdraw altogether in six months.

The INF treaty was agreed during the Cold War and has been a centrepiece of arms control.

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The announcement may aim to pressure Russian Federation to come to terms during the next six months but it also raised fears of a new U.S.

US withdrawal raises the prospect of further deterioration in U.S.

Critics like Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, say the Trump administration "lacks a coherent strategy to address the threat new Russian cruise missiles pose to the interests of the United States and those of our allies". "And it's unfair for the U.S. to voluntarily restrict itself in a bilateral treaty when one side of that partnership (Russia) is failing to live by its obligations". The pact bans production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (310-3,400 miles).

"I conclude that the United States was not expecting any decision and all this was a game made to cover their domestic decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty".

Alexandra Bell, a former state department arms control official and senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said: "New Start is working, it's good for American national security and this administration is putting global security at risk by foot-dragging on extension". He added that Washington's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies "fully support" the USA in its actions in regards to the INF withdrawal. "We can not be the only country bound by a treaty".

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"Neither side is showing the flexibility necessary to arrive with an agreement that brings Russian Federation into compliance", he said.

Pompeo and Trump said that USA allies in Europe were with them, with Trump's statement saying, "Our NATO Allies fully support us, because they understand the threat posed by Russia's violation and the risks to arms control posed by ignoring treaty violations".

"Our current situation, in which Russian Federation continues to violate the treaty while we abide by the treaty, is untenable", she said. Moscow and Washington have for years traded claims of the other party being in violation.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters on February 1 that the exit from the treaty has nothing to do with China, which has deployed more than 1,000 missiles neither Washington nor Moscow could deploy under the INF.

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