Thu, 23 May 2019

The United States says it will suspend its obligations under a Cold War nuclear arms treaty if Moscow does not return to compliance within two months.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision on December 4 after NATO allies meeting in Brussels 'strongly' supported U.S. accusations that Russia violated the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Moscow and Washington.

The pact prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing, or deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometers.

Amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West, U.S. President Donald Trump in October vowed to abandon the treaty, saying Russia had been violating it with a new missile system.

Russia has said little about its Novator 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8, other than to deny that it is in breach of the pact.

Moscow also has alleged that some elements of U.S. missile-defense systems in Europe were in violation of the treaty, which Washington denies.

Accusing Russia of 'cheating at its arms control obligations,' Pompeo told a news conference in Brussels that Russia has 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the United States would suspend its own compliance.

SEE ALSO: Standoff Over INF Treaty Enters New Phase As U.S. Reveals Details Of Russian Missile

'During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period,' he said.

'We've talked to the Russians a great deal,' the state secretary also said. "We're hopeful they'll change course, but there's been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so.'

Pompeo said Russia had developed 'multiple battalions' of the SSC-8, adding that its range 'makes it a direct menace to Europe.'

In a joint statement issued earlier in the day, the NATO foreign ministers said Russia had 'developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security.'

The ministers from the 29-member alliance called on Moscow to 'return urgently to full and verifiable compliance,' saying, 'It's now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.'

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters RFE/RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. LIKE FOLLOW Subscribe via RSS

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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