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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

US formally abandons INF, Moscow announces missile treaty's demise

Iran Press TV

Fri Aug 2, 2019 09:44AM

The United States has officially withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, blaming Russia for the Cold War-era treaty's collapse.

"Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday, announcing Washington's withdrawal.

"With the full support of our NATO allies, the United States has determined Russia to be in material breach of the treaty, and has subsequently suspended our obligations under the treaty," he said.

Following the US announcement, Moscow also declared the formal end of the arms control treaty.

"On Aug 2, 2019, at the initiative of the US side, the treaty between the Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of their medium-range and shorter-range missiles ... was terminated," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The US was scheduled to leave the treaty on August 2, a deadline set by US President Donald Trump in February.

NATO also blamed Russia for the demise of the missile treaty and vowed to respond in a "measured and responsible way" to Moscow's deployment of a cruise missile.

"Russia bears sole responsibility for the demise of the Treaty. NATO will respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to Allied security," the transatlantic alliance said.

Washington had said Moscow's failure to comply with the treaty was the main reason behind its pullout decision. Russia, however, says it has not breached the accord and believes the US planned to abandon the deal as part of its plan to develop its own sophisticated missiles.

According to reports, Washington sees a benefit in developing new weapons as part of its new policy to confront both China and Russia.

Last month, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said abandoning the treaty would free up the US military "to deal with not just Russia, but China."

Other US officials, however, have warned the decision would jeopardize the country's future missile testing and research programs as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will not provide adequate funding.

Recently, the House declined to fund the Trump administration's request of about $96 million for the development of the missiles in its version of a fiscal-year 2020 budget and military policy bill.

Washington has been deploying its missiles in Eastern Europe and near Russia's western borders, a provocative move denounced by the Kremlin.

Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington not to deploy such missiles in the vicinity of Russia's borders, vowing to deploy its own missiles, capable of reaching all parts of Europe in response.

The treaty -- concluded in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- limited the Cold War powers' medium-range missiles, both conventional and nuclear.

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