Save US-Russia nuclear treaty, European Union urges

Save US-Russia nuclear treaty, European Union urges

The United States will suspend its obligations under a landmark nuclear treaty in 60 days in response to Russia's alleged violation of the pact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels, Pompeo outlined longstanding U.S. allegations of Russian violations of the cold war-era treaty with the development and deployment of a new ground-launched cruise missile, which he said was part of a wider pattern of lawlessness by the Kremlin.

Pompeo's statement announcing the policy on Tuesday came alongside a statement from NATO foreign ministers formally announcing that Russian Federation was in violation of the INF treaty by developing new ground-based missile systems.

"Russia must return to full and verifiable compliance; Russia's failure to do so will result in the demise of the INF Treaty", Pompeo told reporters. "It is now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty", the statement says.

DW's correspondent at NATO Teri Schultz said the U.S. had allowed the 60-day concession in response to European concerns over an immediate withdrawal and followed direct intervention by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But NATO allies, led by Germany, have managed to persuade US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to give diplomacy one last chance before Washington pulls the plug on the historic accord.

On Monday, three Democrat senators - Bob Menendez, Jack Reed, and Mark Warner - criticized Trump's intent to walk away from the treaty, calling it a "political and geostrategic gift to Russian Federation", arguing it lacked "strategic forethought" and could even affect other arms control treaties, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

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The INF was a bilateral treaty between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union, so it puts no restrictions on other major military actors like China.

"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.

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the US Senate, eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

Europeans are concerned that the United States would once again be obliged to deploy its own missiles across the continent should the treaty fall apart.

Moscow has denied its new missile violates the INF but, after several years denying its existence, it has been vague on its capabilities.

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

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