The Latest: US formally suspends INF arms treaty with Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the Russia-U.S. dispute over a nuclear arms treaty (all times local):
The top American diplomat says the United States has formally suspended its obligations under a Cold War-arms treaty with Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration has acted after what he calls “Russia’s material breach” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and its failure to come into compliance in the two months since Washington gave notice of its intent to withdraw from the pact.
Pompeo says in a statement the U.S. provided Russia with formal notice of the American withdrawal in six months, according to terms of the treaty.
He says the U.S. “has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve” the treaty. But he says Moscow “continues to deny that its noncompliant missile system” violates the accord.
Pompeo says Russia’s actions have “jeopardized the United States’ supreme interests, and the United States can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia openly violates it.”
NATO member Latvia says it understands why the United States is pulling out of a major nuclear arms treaty as Russia has “seriously violated” it and urged Moscow to take “constructive measures” to preserve the treaty.
A statement from Latvia’s Foreign Ministry published late Friday, ahead of Russia’s Saturday announcement that it was abandoning the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, stressed that “effective arms control is a vital element of Euro-Atlantic security.”
The ministry said a situation where the U.S. unilaterally complies with the treaty while Russia violates it “by developing and fielding” banned missiles “is unsustainable and is not conducive to security in the Euro-Atlantic space.”
The Baltic country that borders Russia referred to Friday’s statement by NATO foreign ministers to support Washington’s decision to ditch the INF treaty.
Russia’s foreign minister says that the U.S. pullout from a pivotal nuclear arms control pact has further upset strategic stability.
Sergey Lavrov spoke during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the U.S. decision to pull the plug on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty over alleged Russian violations.
Lavrov said that Washington has ignored Russia’s offer to inspect a cruise missile that the U.S. claimed violated the pact. He charged that the U.S. itself has violated the treaty by deploying missile interceptors in Romania that use the launchers that could hold land-based cruise missiles.
The Russian minister said that another centerpiece nuclear arms pact, the New Start, which is set to expire in 2021, is also in trouble.
President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will abandon a centerpiece nuclear arms treaty, following in the footsteps of the United States, and that Moscow will only deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles if Washington does so.
Putin spoke after the U.S. announced Friday it was pulling the plug on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty over alleged Russian violations. Moscow denied any breaches and accused Washington of making false accusations in order to justify its pullout.
Following the U.S. notice of withdrawal from the treaty in six months, Putin said in televised remarks Saturday that Russia will do the same. He ordered the development of new land-based intermediate-range weapons, but emphasized that Russia won’t deploy them in the European part of the country or elsewhere unless the U.S. does so.
China’s government has appealed to Washington and Moscow to preserve a nuclear arms treaty following a U.S. decision to withdraw.
The foreign ministry warned Saturday the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty might trigger “adverse consequences.”
A ministry statement said: “China is opposed to the U.S. withdrawal and urges the U.S. and Russia to properly resolve differences through constructive dialogue”
The Trump administration announced the decision Friday to shed what it sees as unreasonable constraints on competing with Russia and a more assertive China.
Other governments and arms-control advocates have warned the U.S. move might open the door to a new nuclear arms race.