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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Putin authorizes development of advanced missiles in response to US suspension of INF

Iran Press TV

Sat Feb 2, 2019 11:05AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suspended a Cold War-era agreement after the US abandoned, authorizing his military forces to push ahead with development of new missiles.

"Our American partners have announced they are suspending their participation in the deal, and we are also suspending our participation," Putin announced in a televised meeting with his foreign and defense ministers on Saturday.

"We will wait until our partners have matured enough to conduct an equal, meaningful dialogue with us on this important topic," he added.

Putin said Russia would to work on its advanced intermediate-range missiles, including supersonic ones.

However, Moscow won't deploy any new missiles unless Washington does so, because Russia does not want to enter a new arms race with the US, he added.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that Washington would suspend the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) for 180 days and fully withdraw from it later if Moscow did not stop what he called "violations".

Reacting to the US announcement, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Moscow was still ready to maintain dialogue on the INF but reserved the right to respond to the US withdrawal from the pact.

On Saturday, however, Putin told his ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with the White House.

US President Donald Trump announced last year that Washington would withdraw from the treaty, which was signed toward the end of the Cold War in 1987 by then US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Under the treaty, both sides were banned from creating ground-launch nuclear missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers and led to the elimination of nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles.

Washington insists that Russia's new 9M729 missile is in violation of the treaty and should be dismantled immediately.

Russia rebutted the claim last month by unveiling the missile and its key specifications. Russian chief of missile and artillery troops Major General Mikhail Matveevsky said then the missile's maximum range is around 480 kilometers, well within what is allowed under the INF.

Shortly after Pompeo's announcement on Friday, Trump said in a statement that he would work with the NATO and draw up its own set of plans, including military ones, to counter Russia's gains from its "unlawful conduct."

'Another US step towards destruction'

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia's parliament, said on Friday Washington "has taken another step toward [the whole world's] destruction today."

Russian Senator Igor Morozov said that Washington's move "carries a threat to the entire system of international security, but first of all for Russia, because after leaving the INF the Americans will deploy these missiles in European countries."

Director of a Russian think tank Ivan Konovalov said Washington "uses [Russia] as a pretext to withdraw from the agreement and keep its face."

He also warned that if the US were to deploy nuclear-capable missiles to Europe after scrapping the treaty, it would literally put the host nations at a gunpoint.

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