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U.S. announces withdrawal from landmark nuke treaty with Russia

 The Trump administration announced on Friday that the United States is withdrawing from a landmark nuclear arms control pact with Russia, a move seen as exacerbating the risk of an international arms race.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement on Friday morning at the State Department, citing Russia's violation of the deal, a claim that has been repeatedly denied by Moscow.

The move, made nearly 60 days after Washington threatened quitting the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, will start a six-month countdown period, which will lead to a permanent exit from the pact inked in 1987 between the United States and the then-Soviet Union.

"We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF Treaty, effective in six months," said the top U.S. diplomat.

A senior Trump administration official later told reporters on a conference call that the United States will officially inform Russia of its decision on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that his country will "move forward with developing our own military response options."

The United States "will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct," said Trump in a statement released by the White House.

Meanwhile, Pompeo said Washington would reconsider its pulling-out decision in the following months if Russia could take actions toward what the United States regards as bringing the country back into compliance with the treaty.

Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the historic arms control deal amid increased tensions.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 01Feb19]

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