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NATO chief says time running out to save INF Treaty, blames Russia

Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg. (Policy Network/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says time is running out to save a key Cold War-era arms-control treaty and that he sees no indication Russia intends to meet Western demands on compliance with its terms.

“This is serious. The INF treaty has been a corner stone in arms control for decades and now we see the demise of the treaty,” Stoltenberg told the BBC in an interview published on July 18.

Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations that it has deployed ground-launched cruise-missile systems in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Earlier this year, the United States gave formal notice that it would withdraw from the pact as of August 2 if Russia did not begin destroying the missiles in question

Stoltenberg said NATO’s priority had been to get Moscow to return to compliance but that there were “no signs whatsoever” that Russia is planning to do so.

“Therefore, we have to be prepared for a world without the INF Treaty and with more Russian missiles.”

Meanwhile, Stoltenberg also praised efforts alliance among members to raise their defense budgets to an agreed target of 2 percent of GDP.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on NATO members to contribute more to the organization.