US suspends arms control treaty with Russia

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Announcing the decision, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that Washington still wanted to engage in arms control negotiations with Russia and hoped Moscow would come into compliance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the United Nations following a Security Council meeting about the situation in Venezuela in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, January 26, 2019.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the United Nations following a Security Council meeting about the situation in Venezuela in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, January 26, 2019. (Reuters)

The US said on Friday it was withdrawing from the landmark Cold War INF missile treaty with Russia, accusing Moscow of violation.

Ahead of a deadline set by Washington, the United States said that Russia had not addressed concerns over a new medium-range missile system that Western states believe goes against the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Russia denies that it has been in violation.

TRT World‘s Christine Pirovolakis reports.

Russia says US wants to ‘get out of its obligations’

Moscow denounced Washington’s decision to leave the treaty, saying it was part of a plan to “get out of its international legal obligations”.

The US exit was not a question of “Russia’s guilt” but is instead “the strategy of the United States to get out of its international legal obligations in different areas,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the television channel channel Rossiya 1.

TRT World spoke to Tom Callender, who is a Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, for his analysis.

‘Onus is on Russia’

Effective Saturday, “the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which will be completed in six months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment,” President Donald Trump said in a statement.

“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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announcing the decision at a news conference, said that Washington still wanted to engage in arms control negotiations with Russia and hoped Moscow would come into compliance.

“The US is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russia back on better footing, but the onus is on Russia to change course from a pattern of destabilising activity, not just on this issue but on many others as well,” Pompeo said.

Meanwhile, NATO allies “fully supported” the US’ pending withdrawal notice from the INF nuclear missile pact over Russia’s actions, a statement by the alliance said.

“The United States is taking this action in response to the significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security posed by Russia’s covert testing, production, and fielding of 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems,” it said.

“Allies fully support this action.”

US move could further deteriorate relations

US withdrawal raises the prospect of further deterioration in US-Russian relations, which already are arguably at the lowest point in decades, and debate among US allies in Europe over whether Russia’s alleged violations warrant a countermeasure such as deployment of an equivalent American missile in Europe.

The US has no nuclear-capable missiles based in Europe; the last of that type and range were withdrawn in line with the INF treaty.

Nuclear weapons experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a statement this week that while Russia’s violation of the INF treaty is a serious problem, US withdrawal under current circumstances would be counterproductive.

“Leaving the INF treaty will unleash a new missile competition between the United States and Russia,” they said.

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament at the Arms Control Association, said on Thursday that the US had failed to exhaust diplomatic options to save the treaty.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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