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NATO allies 'fully support' USA action on INF treaty

02 February 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the United States would withdraw in 180 days from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

Donald Trump has confirmed that the United States is leaving the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, saying "we will move forward with developing our own military response options" to Russia's suspect missile.

The U.S. says it will suspend its obligations to the treaty on Saturday, and that if Russian Federation doesn't come into compliance, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty "will terminate". Tomorrow that time runs out.

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson said this month no progress has been made.

"China [and] Iran, for that matter, are not bound by the treaty", said the senior administration official on the phone call with reporters.

The future of the treaty is still unknown as President Trump pushes for China to come under its authority, and continues to claim Russian Federation has long flouted the rules.

Reif said the period between now and August, when the US withdrawal would take effect, offers a last chance to save the treaty, but he sees little prospect of that happening.

Technically, a USA withdrawal would take effect six months after this week's notification, leaving a small window for saving the treaty. Russian Federation also has rejected a US demand to destroy the new missile. Washington asked to test the missile's range, but Moscow refused and offered a testing scenario USA officials found unacceptable.

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In a statement, NATO said America's allies "fully support" the USA decision because of Russia's threat to Euro-Atlantic security and its refusal to provide any credible response or take any steps towards full and verifiable compliance.

In Europe, the move was met with support from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, who backed the US position that Russian Federation is to blame for the INF's potential demise.

Talk of a US withdrawal from the treaty has caused great concern in Europe, where the result likely would be a discussion about possible nuclear rearmament. "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".

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders says he hopes the United States will work closely with Russian Federation to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons after it pulls out of a key Cold War-era missile treaty. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to".

"Russia faces a choice: It can either keep its noncompliant missile system or it can have the INF treaty, but it cannot have both", she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman slammed the USA decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty and noted that Moscow now has the right for reciprocal actions.

As a senior administration official put it during a phone call briefing with reporters on Friday: "Let's be clear, if there's an arms race, it is Russian Federation that is starting it". "We need to make sure that we respond as an alliance, all 29 allies, because all allies are involved and all allies are affected". "The U.S. has taken another step toward destroying the world", Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russia's Committee on Foreign Affairs, said.

Washington however said a static display of the cruise missile does not prove this.

NATO allies 'fully support' USA action on INF treaty