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Trump administration abandons 1987 U.S.-Russia missile treaty

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Trump administration abandons 1987 U.S.-Russia missile treaty
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia has weapons that violate the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty -- putting, he said, millions of Americans and European allies at risk. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday the United States will abandon a missile treaty it signed with Russia more than three decades ago, because Moscow's not holding up its end of the deal.

At a news conference, Pompeo said Russia has weapons that violate the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty -- putting, he said, millions of Americans and European allies at risk. U.S. officials gave Russia 60 days to come into compliance.

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"Tomorrow that time runs out. Russia has refused to take any steps to get into verifiable compliance," Pompeo said. "Russia has jeopardized American security interests."

The move follows broken negotiations between the United States and Russia this week. Pompeo said it does no good to sign an agreement if one of the parties ignores it.

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"Yet another mechanism to avoid nuclear conflict has been destroyed ... The U.S. has taken another step toward destroying the world," Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russia's Committee on Foreign Affairs, said.

ARCHIVE President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev sign historic INF treaty

Franz Klintsevich, deputy chairman of Russia's Committee for Defense and Security, said Russia "will not comply with the treaty unilaterally ... We'll have to revive a number of medium- and short-range missile creation projects."

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The INF treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 -- intended to prevent both countries from positioning short and intermediate-range, land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.

RELATED Stoltenberg: Russia INF violation a risk to Euro-Atlantic security

"Our NATO Allies fully support us, because they understand the threat posed by Russia's violation and the risks to arms control posed by ignoring treaty violations," President Donald Trump said in a statement Friday. "The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions.

"We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other."

Russia has four battalions of 9M729 cruise missiles, which total about 100 plus spares. Those missiles are barred by the 32-year-old pact. Pompeo said Trump had hoped Russia would destroy some of the missiles and had gone to tremendous lengths to preserve the treaty.

It will take about six months to withdraw, which buys more time for Russia to reverse course and come into compliance.

"President Trump is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russia on better footing," Pompeo said.

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Trump has warned the United States might junk the treaty and begin pursuing its own expansive missile program.

"Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years," Trump said in October. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday Moscow was expecting the U.S. withdrawal "with much regret," and said the Trump administration is unwilling to hold "substantial talks."

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson said this month no progress has been made.

"Our current situation, in which Russia continues to violate the treaty while we abide by the treaty, is untenable," she said. "Violations must have consequences."

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