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US suspends INF Treaty obligations — Pompeo

The United States will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) on February 2, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced on Friday.

Pompeo pointed out that in December 2018, he provided notice "that unless Russia returned to full and verifiable compliance within 60 days, we would suspend our obligations under that Treaty." "Russia has refused to take any steps to return to real and verifiable compliance over these 60 days. The United States will therefore suspend its obligations under the INF treaty effective February 2. We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with a formal notice that the US is withdrawing from the INF Treaty effective in six months, pursuing Article 15 of the Treaty," the US state secretary noted.

According to him, "Russia has jeopardized the United States security interests and we can no longer be restricted by the Treaty, while Russia shamelessly violates it.

"If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the Treaty within the six-month period by verifiably destroying its INF violating missiles, their launches and associate equipment, the Treaty will terminate," Pompeo stated.

More than 30 times

Pompeo also said that Washington had "raised the Russian non-compliance with Russian officials, including at the highest level of government, more than 30 times."

"Russia continues to deny that its missile system is not compliant and violates the Treaty. Russia’s violation puts millions of Europeans and Americans at great risk, it aims to put the United States at a military disadvantage and it undercuts the chances of putting our bilateral relationship at a better direction," he stressed.

"It’s our duty to respond appropriately. When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded and our security is so openly threatened, we must respond," Pompeo said

INF Treaty issue

The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington on many occasions accused Russia of violating the Treaty but Moscow strongly dismissed all accusations and expressed grievances concerning Washington’s non-compliance.

Pompeo said on December 4, 2018, that Washington would suspend its obligations under the Treaty unless Moscow returned to compliance within 60 days. On December 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Washington had not provided evidence proving Moscow’s violations of the document. He also said that Russia called for maintaining the Treaty but if the United States pulled out of it, Moscow would have to give an appropriate response.

[Source: Itar Tass, Washington, 01Feb19]

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