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Trump says U.S. is withdrawing from nuclear treaty with Russian Federation

02 February 2019

WASHINGTON - The United States is suspending its compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russian Federation on Saturday and will withdraw from the landmark 1987 arms control accord in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged violation of the pact, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

In explaining his decision, which he had foreshadowed months ago, President Donald Trump accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with "impunity" by deploying banned missiles.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson on Thursday held last-ditch talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Beijing ahead of the expiration on Saturday of a USA 60-day deadline for Moscow to return to compliance with the treaty. It also set off fierce debate in Europe, inside West Germany and elsewhere, with protesters taking to the streets against the missile deployments and the USA for escalating the arms race.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to speak at a news conference in Washington on Friday morning.

The Pentagon has shared information with NATO allies asserting that Russia's new 9M729 missile system falls within the treaty.

The Trump administration took a tough line with Russian Federation today over violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

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Reif said the period between now and August, when the USA withdrawal would take effect, offers a last chance to save the treaty, but he sees little prospect of that happening.

Trump said that on Saturday the United States will "suspend its obligations" under the treaty, meaning it will be freed from its constraints, including the testing and deployment of missiles banned by the pact.

The United States will suspend its obligations under a landmark nuclear treaty with Russian Federation starting on February 2, according to simultaneous statements issued by the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"This is in reality, under global law, Russia's final chance", a senior administration official said.

"Through its actions, the Kremlin bears responsibility for the degradation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty", Menendez said.

"It is our duty to respond appropriately", Pompeo said, adding that the United States had provided "ample time" for Russian Federation to return to compliance.

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"To this day", he added, "Russia remains in material breach of its treaty obligations not to produce, possess or flight test a ground-launched intermediate range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers [about 300 to 3,400 miles]".

"I "congratulate" the whole world; the United States has taken another step toward its destruction today", said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament. "We have no ground-based capability that can threaten China because of, among other things, our rigid adherence, and rightfully so, to the treaty that we signed on to, the INF Treaty". The threat from China is a much bigger problem for Russian Federation than it is for the United States, the official said. "China, and Iran for that matter, are not bound by the treaty and each of these countries has over 1,000 of these missiles".

If Russia doesn't return to full compliance of the treaty within six months, the treaty will be terminated.

An American withdrawal has been expected for months, and an announcement is expected later Friday.

"My strongest criticism is that the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have absolutely no Plan B", said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.

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Trump says U.S. is withdrawing from nuclear treaty with Russian Federation