NATO, US put pressure on Russian Federation over INF treaty

Top senators slam Trump’s INF treaty pullout call it ‘gift to Russia

The United States said it would pull out of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty unless Moscow withdraws a new cruise missile system that has threatened to trigger a new arms race.

Russian Federation plans to bolster its armed forces and launch around 4,000 war games in preparation for President Donald Trump's abandonment of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Pompeo said there is "complete unity" among NATO members on this decision, and it comes after the Foreign Ministers of NATO released a joint statement that says Russia's development and deployment specifically of the 9M729 missile system "poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security" and "is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty", paving the way for US withdrawal.

Pompeo said there was no reason why the U.S. "should continue to cede this crucial military advantage" to rival powers. "It is now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty".

On Monday, three Democrat senators - Bob Menendez, Jack Reed, and Mark Warner - criticized Trump's intent to walk away from the treaty, calling it a "political and geostrategic gift to Russian Federation", arguing it lacked "strategic forethought" and could even affect other arms control treaties, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media conference after a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.

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Accusing Russia of "cheating at its arms control obligations", Pompeo told a news conference in Brussels that Russia has 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the United States would suspend its own compliance.

The treaty was negotiated by then president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of both superpowers, reducing their ability to launch a military strike at short notice.

"During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period", he said.

China, North Korea, and Iran are not obligated by the treaty's limitations, and, "This leaves them free to build all the intermediate range missiles they would like", he said. Moscow has returned accusations of non-compliance on the U.S., arguing that United States bases in Eastern Europe are not defensive but offensive and could potentially be used to target Russian Federation.

Europeans are concerned that the United States would once again be obliged to deploy its own missiles across the continent should the treaty fall apart.

"Russia's violation of the INF Treaty erodes the foundations of effective arms control and undermines Allied security".

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