Washington, February 2: The Trump administration announced Friday that the United States will pull out of a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, ending a cornerstone Cold War agreement and raising fears of a new nuclear arms race in Europe and Asia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Feb. 1 the U.S. will suspend its participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
“We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other,” Trump said in a statement. “We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
The demise of the INF Treaty opens the door to the deployment of American intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia, potentially increasing the tension in a standoff with Russia and China.
“The United States is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russia back on a better footing, but the onus is on Russia to change course from a pattern of destabilizing activity, not just on this issue but on many others as well,” Pompeo said when announcing the decision Friday.
“Russia is in material breach of the INF Treaty & must use next 6 months to return to full & verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise. #NATO fully supports the US suspension & notification of withdrawal from the Treaty,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
What is the INF Treaty?
The INF Treaty eliminated all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometres
On 20 October 2018, citing Russian non-compliance, US President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the treaty. Numerous prominent nuclear arms control experts, including George Shultz, Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn, urged Trump to preserve the treaty. Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on 20 November 2018 that the Kremlin was prepared to discuss INF with Washington but would "retaliate" if the United States withdrew. On 1 February 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. was suspending the treaty.