US says to withdraw from arms control treaty in six months

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The United States will suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russian Federation on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged violation of the pact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

"I "congratulate" the whole world; the United States has taken another step toward its destruction today", Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia's parliament, said.

For years, Washington has accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

"If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty within this six-month period by verifiably destroying its INF-violating missiles, their launchers, and associated equipment, the treaty will terminate".

Both Trump and Pompeo said the USA withdrawal is backed by NATO allies, who joined Washington in December to declare Moscow in material breach of the treaty. 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 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) conference in Beijing consists of five permanent members (P5) China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Russian Federation made a last-ditch attempt to preserve the treaty and displayed the disputed missile on January 23 as proof, which American officials rejected. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday Moscow was expecting the US withdrawal "with much regret", and said the Trump administration is unwilling to hold "substantial talks".

"So we must prepare for a world without the Treaty", she wrote.

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"It is evident that Russian Federation has no intention of returning to the Treaty, and I commend the Trump administration for recognizing this reality", said Fischer, of Nebraska.

Pompeo and Trump said that USA allies in Europe were with them, with Trump's statement saying, "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".

But the top USA diplomat for arms control had met with Russian Federation repeatedly in the last two months, saying after each meeting that Russian Federation continued to deny its deployment and the US had no other choice.

However, the second senior administration official downplayed the China impact, saying "This really doesn't have anything to with China".

"I hope that our American colleagues, including outside the treaty framework, are going to keep working on this dialogue with Russian Federation", he said. "They have been violating it for many years", Trump said in October.

Russian Federation for several years denied the missile existed but has more recently acknowledged its existence, saying its range does not violate INF limits.

"Russia consistently refuses to acknowledge its violation and continues to push disinformation and false narratives regarding its illegal missile", she said.

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