U.S. to suspend nuclear treaty obligations because of Russia’s ‘cheating’

Foreign ministers from NATO member countries said in a statement Tuesday that they "strongly support the finding of the United States that Russian Federation is in material breach of its obligations" under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, leading to Pompeo saying the United States would suspend its treaty obligations in 60 days over the alleged violations.

NATO and the USA say the 9M279 - also known by the designation SSC-8 - violates the INF treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

The US has said it will withdraw from a landmark nuclear missile treaty in 60 days if Russian Federation does not address its alleged violations of the pact. Meanwhile, the USA would simply declare itself no longer bound by the treaty in view of Russia's alleged material breach.

"It has to be fully implemented, so I hope that the time that is there to work on preserving the treaty and achieving its full implementation can be used wisely from all sides, and we will definitely try to make our part to make sure this happens".

DW's correspondent at NATO Teri Schultz said the USA had allowed the 60-day concession in response to European concerns over an immediate withdrawal and followed direct intervention by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

During a conference in the Russian city of Sochi on Tuesday, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia is preparing for an arms race.

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Trump's chief diplomat Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters for a ministerial meeting on Tuesday and won support for a tough stance from the allies.

If Russia does not comply within the 60-day deadline, the U.S. will begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the INF treaty.

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.

Until then, Pompeo said, the U.S. would not "test or produce or deploy any systems" that would breach the treaty. Meanwhile, it accuses the United States of violating the INF by the deployment of the Aegis missile defence system in Romania and Poland, on the grounds that the launchers used in that system for defensive interceptors could be adapted to fire offensive cruise missiles.

The ministers from the 29-member alliance called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance", saying, "It's now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty".

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

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