The United States on Friday formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, ending an arms control pact that limited the use of ground-based missiles within a range of 500 to 5,000 km, CNN reported. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held Russia “solely responsible” for the end of the treaty.
“On February 2, 2019, the US gave Russia six months to return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” Pompeo tweeted. “Russia refused, so the treaty ends today. The US will not remain party to a treaty when others violate it.” The Russian Foreign Ministry alleged the treaty’s end was the initiative of the United States, reported Russian state-run news agency RIA-Novosti.
Mike Pompeo, however, invited China and Russia to participate in discussions about a “new era of arms control that moves beyond the bilateral treaties of the past”. “The United States calls upon Russia and China to join us in this opportunity to deliver real security results to our nations and the entire world,” AFP quoted him as saying.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO, condemned Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty. “We regret that Russia has shown no willingness and taken no demonstrable steps to return to compliance with its international obligations,” it said in a statement. “A situation whereby the United States fully abides by the Treaty, and Russia does not, is not sustainable.” NATO added that it would respond to the “risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to Allied security”.
The United States military has been planning to conduct a test on new mobile-launched cruise missiles created to challenge Russia, an unidentified senior defence official told CNN. However, the official also claimed that it would take years for the US to deploy the weapons while experts expressed concerns that it could trigger an arms race between the two countries.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 by then United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was considered to be the foundation for the international arms control architecture, according to AFP. The United States, however, has said the treaty has given nations such as China the freedom to develop their own long-range missiles.