FULL: Pompeo Announces US Suspends INF Treaty Participation

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Published on 1 Feb 2019, 18:22
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the U.S. is suspending its participation in the INF treaty with Russia, citing multiple violations by the Russians.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday the United States is officially withdrawing from the landmark Cold War INF missile treaty with Russia, saying Moscow was in violation, and has been 'for years.'

Shortly after Pompeo's press conference, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) released a statement affirming it 'fully' supports the US withdrawal.

'The United States is taking this action in response to the significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security posed by Russia's covert testing, production, and fielding of 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems. Allies fully support this action,' the transatlantic alliance said in a statement.

Washington says that a new Russian medium-range missile system breaches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, although US officials also have an eye on China as the 1987 pact constrains the United States but not the rising Asian power.

Effective Saturday, '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 six months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment,' President Donald Trump said in a statement.

'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,' Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announcing the decision at a news conference, said that Washington still wanted to engage in arms control negotiations with Russia and hoped Moscow would come into compliance.

'The United States is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russia back on better footing, but the onus is on Russia to change course from a pattern of destabilizing activity, not just on this issue but on many others as well,' Pompeo said.

Brokered by then US president Ronald Reagan and last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the treaty has banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers and ended a dangerous build-up of warheads in Europe.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States, which formally announced its concerns two months ago, had raised the alleged treaty violation with Russia more than 30 times.

'Russia's violation puts millions of Europeans and Americans at greater risk, it aims to put the United States at a military disadvantage and it undercuts the chances of moving our bilateral relationship in a better direction,' Pompeo said.
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