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U.S. expects to leave Cold War arms treaty over Russia concerns

By Sommer Brokaw
U.S. expects to leave Cold War arms treaty over Russia concerns
A U.S. flag flies from the main building of the U.S. embassy near a Russian flag (L, front) in Moscow, Russia. The United States may pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty, which the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed on in the 1980s. File Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA-EFE

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A top State Department official said Thursday that she doesn't expect Russia to meet a Feb. 2 deadline to avoid the U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty.

Andrea Thompson, under secretary for arms control for the Department of State, said President Donald Trump's administration will "suspend our obligations" under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty if Russia does not destroy a disputed missile to come under compliance by Feb. 2, The Hill reported.

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Thompson added she is "not particularly optimistic" that Russia will meet that deadline.

The INF treaty signed between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 banned all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,417 miles.

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In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would withdraw from the INF treaty in 60 days unless Russia complies with the agreement.

At a news conference Wednesday, Russia showed off the disputed Novator 9M729 missile, saying it could only fly nearly 300 miles, which would put it within the limits established under the INF treaty, Defense News reported.

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However, Thompson compared Russia's comments to pointing at a car and asking someone to determine how fast it could go without being able to drive it.

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"Arms control works when you can fully verify the compliance with it," Thompson said. "The transparency measures they brought to the table wouldn't have done so."

Thompson returned last week from a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with Russian negotiators, including Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, but she said she wasn't able to "break any new ground."

"The Russians acknowledged having the system but continued to say in their talking points it didn't violate the INF treaty despite showing them, repeated times, the intelligence and information" that the U.S. says indicates the missile can fly beyond 3,106 miles, Thompson said.

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