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After Russia violations, Pompeo announces withdrawal from nuclear missile treaty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is seen during his news conference at the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on July 12, 2018. (Jaap Arriens/Sipa USA/TNS)
February 01, 2019

Amid much speculation, the U.S. has officially withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement Friday as a result of Russia’s continued violations of the treaty and failure to return to compliance despite warnings given, ABC News reported.

Pompeo delivered the decision in a brief press conference with reporters. Watch the video below:

Pompeo explained that Russia has been violating the treaty for years, and despite those violations, the U.S. has attempted to maintain the agreement.

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“To this day, Russia remains in material breach of its treaty obligations not to produce, possess, or flight test a ground-launched intermediate cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5500 kilometers,” Pompeo explained.

“We have raised Russia’s noncompliance with Russian officials, including at the highest levels of government, more than 30 times, yet Russia continues to deny that its missile system is noncompliant and violates the treaty,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said Russia’s violation of the treaty has compromised U.S. security interests. “It’s our duty to respond appropriately,” Pompeo said. “When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded, and our security is so openly threatened, we must respond.”

The announcement comes one day ahead of the 60-day deadline the U.S. gave Russia to return to compliance with the treaty.

“We provided Russia an ample window of time to mend its ways and for Russia to honor its commitment. Tomorrow that time runs out. Russia has refused to take any steps to return real and verifiable compliance over these 60 days,” Pompeo explained. “The United States will therefore suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty effective February 2nd.”

Now that a decision to withdrawal has been announced, the treaty mandates an additional six-month window to complete with withdrawal.

“Russia has long violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that threatens our allies and troops abroad. Tomorrow, the U.S. will suspend its obligations and begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty,” the White House Twitter account posted Friday.

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“The United States has adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms unless Russia comes into verifiable and enforceable compliance,” another tweet added.

The White House also released a full statement from President Trump:

For far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad. Tomorrow, the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which will be completed in 6 months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment. Our NATO Allies fully support us, because they understand the threat posed by Russia’s violation and the risks to arms control posed by ignoring treaty violations.

The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.

My Administration remains committed to effective arms control that advances United States, allied, and partner security, is verifiable and enforceable, and includes partners that fulfill their obligations. For arms control to effectively contribute to national security, all parties must faithfully implement their obligations. We stand ready to engage with Russia on arms control negotiations that meet these criteria, and, importantly, once that is done, develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an outstanding relationship on economic, trade, political, and military levels. This would be a fantastic thing for Russia and the United States, and would also be great for the world.