U.S. prepares to withdraw from INF nuclear missile treaty

A cruise missile is fired by a US guided-missile destroyer

The US exit is not a question of "Russia's guilt", but the "strategy of the United States to get out of its worldwide legal obligations in different areas" in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the television channel Rossiya 1 on Friday.

"For too long", Trump said in a written statement issued by the White House, Russia has violated the treaty "with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops overseas".

The US is expected to withdraw from the agreement with Russian Federation on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles expires on February 2. "We continue, therefore, to call on Russian Federation to come back into compliance and fully respect the INF Treaty".

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, is expected to announce today that the US will pull out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Long-standing Russian complaints of the US building a global missile system were again raised in the wake of Trump's announcement last month of the 2019 Missile Defense Review, through which he vowed to "detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime". Later that same month, Putin warned European countries that accepted US missile positions "that they will be subjecting their own territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike". The Russians will likely argue that "this is about the USA and the U.S. trying to destabilize the worldwide order", this official said, stressing that Europe has been united in its stance, alongside the U.S., that Russia has been violating the treaty. The treaty bans land-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km.

"It is important that disarmament and the worldwide arms control architecture are put back on the global agenda", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

America's NATO allies have said they "fully support" America's decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

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"We are sometime away from having a system that we have produced, that we would train soldiers or airmen or Marines to deploy, and then certainly before we would be in a position to talk about basing, potentially in allied countries. and of course all that will be proceeded by intensive consultations with allies so that we can have a mutual understanding of what the security environment, what the defense and deterrence environment will be in a post INF world", the official said.

"It is our duty to respond appropriately", Pompeo said, adding that the USA had provided "ample time" for Russian Federation to return to compliance.

"Leaving the INF treaty will unleash a new missile competition between the United States and Russian Federation", they said.

Russian Federation on Friday said it regretted Washington's expected exit from a key arms control treaty and expected to receive formal notice from the United States shortly.

European officials are concerned about the treaty's possible collapse, fearful that Europe could again become an arena for nuclear-armed, intermediate-range missile buildups by the United States and Russian Federation. Bolton has a much more clear-eyed view of Vladimir Putin and his imperial ambitions than Trump or his previous two predecessors had until they themselves got burned badly enough.

US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters in October that if the 9M729 "became capable of delivering", then the Western military alliance would "be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries in Europe and hit America".

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