WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States formally withdrew from a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia on Friday after determining that Moscow was in violation of the treaty and had no plans to come into compliance with it.
U.S. President Donald Trump made the determination that the United States would terminate adherence to the 1987 arms control accord, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), senior administration officials told reporters.
The treaty bans either side from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe. Washington signaled its intention six months ago to pull out of the agreement if Russia made no move to adhere to it.
“The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement about the U.S. withdrawal.
“Russia’s noncompliance under the treaty jeopardizes U.S. supreme interests as Russia’s development and fielding of a treaty-violating missile system represents a direct threat to the United States and our allies and partners,” Pompeo said.
The senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russia had deployed “multiple battalions” of a Russian cruise missile throughout Russia in violation of the pact, including in western Russia, “with the ability to strike critical European targets.”
Russia denies the allegation, saying the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty, and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty Washington wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles. Russia has also rejected a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.
The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the U.S. 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.
The treaty bans land-based missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km).
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