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US pulls out from INF treaty over Russian ‘violation’

The U.S. on Friday officially withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, due to Russia’s “continuing violation of the treaty”.

Its withdrawal from the treaty takes effect today as “Russia failed to return to full and verified compliance through the destruction of its noncompliant intermediate-range cruise missile system,” the U.S State Department said in a statement.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” and it “subsequently and systematically rebuffed six years of U.S. efforts seeking Russia’s return to compliance,” said the statement.

The state department stressed that although the U.S. provided Russia “a final opportunity to correct its noncompliance” over the past six months, “Russia chose to keep its noncompliant missile rather than going back into compliance with its treaty obligations.”

Russia’s development and fielding of a “treaty-violating missile system represents a direct threat to the United States and our allies and partners” and Russia’s noncompliance under the treaty “jeopardizes U.S. supreme interests,” said the statement.

The U.S. appreciates the “steadfast cooperation” and resolve NATO allies have shown in responding to Russia’s violation, it said.

It seeks “a new era of arms control that moves beyond the bilateral treaties of the past, calling Russia and China to join this opportunity to deliver ‘real’ security results to the member nations and the entire world,” added the statement.

In a statement, NATO also accused Russia for the demise of the treaty.

“Russia today remains in violation of the INF Treaty, despite years of U.S. and Allied engagement, including a final opportunity over six months to honor its treaty obligations. As a result, the United States decision to withdraw from the treaty, a decision fully supported by NATO Allies, is now taking effect,” the statement said.

“NATO will respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to Allied security,” it added.

The INF treaty has been widely seen as a cornerstone of European security in the post-Cold War era after the U.S. and Russia signed it in 1987. It prohibits both countries from possessing and testing ground launch missiles with a range between 300-3,100 miles.

In October 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced an exit from the pact, accusing Moscow of violaThis February, the U.S. began the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty to be completed in six months.

In a tit-for-tat response, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill suspending Moscow’s obligations under the INF treaty on July 3.

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