Trump blames Russian Federation as USA pulls out of nuclear arms treaty

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in early December that Washington would give Moscow 60 days to return to compliance before it gave formal notice of withdrawal

A congressional staffer told RFE/RL on January 31 that the State Department is likely to make the announcement a day ahead of the USA -set deadline of February 2 for Russian Federation to meet Washington's requirements as part of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

"We will provide Russian Federation and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF treaty, effective in six months". In December, the Trump administration gave Russian Federation 60 days to agree to the treaty's terms, warning that the USA would prepare to withdraw from the treaty if Russian Federation did not comply.

The White House announced Friday morning the United States is pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russian Federation after repeated violations by the Kremlin. Signed in 2011, the strategic arms treaty limits the number of US and Russian nuclear warheads and delivery systems, and it is due to expire in early 2021 unless Washington and Moscow agree to extend it. Later that same month, Putin warned European countries that accepted USA missile positions "that they will be subjecting their own territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike".

"We'll follow all the steps that need to be taken on the treaty to suspend our obligations with the intent to withdraw".

With the Trump administration on Friday fulfilling its months-long promise to withdraw from the Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia-despite warnings that such a move would only win applause from nuclear weapons manufacturers-a group of Democratic lawmakers and Sen. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).

"For any arms control treaty to be effective, every party must abide by its terms", she said.

Trump said his administration "will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and our other allies and partners to deny Russian Federation any military advantage from its unlawful conduct". "We can not be the only country bound by a treaty".

The Pentagon has shared information with NATO allies asserting that Russia's new 9M729 missile system falls within the treaty. Some experts believe the treaty's collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system created to block the spread of nuclear arms.

"Russia faces a choice: It can either keep its noncompliant missile system or it can have the INF treaty, but it cannot have both", she said.

Some experts also say the withdrawal could help the United States stave off China's growing conventional military power in Asia. Most analysts are in agreement that Russian Federation is adhering to the New START treaty.

However, the second senior administration official downplayed the China impact, saying "This really doesn't have anything to with China".

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament at the Arms Control Association, said Thursday the Trump administration has failed to exhaust diplomatic options to save the treaty.

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