Trump administration to suspend nuclear treaty with Russia

Source: The Hill | February 1, 2019 | Morgan Chalfant and Rebecca Kheel

The Trump administration announced Friday that it would suspend its obligations under a decades old Cold War arms control pact with Russia on Saturday, citing Moscow’s violations of the treaty.

The White House announced the decision to stop complying with the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in a statement from President Trump early Friday, just before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the move in remarks from the State Department.

“Russia has refused to take any steps to return to real and verifiable compliance over these 60 days,” Pompeo said.

“The United States will therefore suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective Feb. 2, and we will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty effective in six months pursuant to Article 15 of the treaty,” he continued.

In his statement, Trump pledged the United States would “move forward with developing our own military response options” to Russia’s violations and work with allies to “deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”

“For arms control to effectively contribute to national security, all parties must faithfully implement their obligations,” Trump said. “We stand ready to engage with Russia on arms control negotiations that meet these criteria, and, importantly, once that is done, develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an outstanding relationship on economic, trade, political and military levels. This would be a fantastic thing for Russia and the United States, and would also be great for the world.”

The U.S. has publicly accused Russia of violating the treaty since 2014 during the Obama administration by fielding a cruise missile known as the 9M729. The agreement, signed by then-President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

Russia has repeatedly denied violating the treaty, leading to an impasse in diplomatic talks aimed at bringing Moscow back into compliance.

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While current and former officials broadly agree Russia has violated the treaty for years, the U.S. move has nevertheless triggered concerns about the impact on the global strategic environment.

Arms control advocates in particular worry withdrawing from the INF Treaty could trigger a Cold War-style arms race, thereby upending stability in Europe and elsewhere.

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