North America

US withdraws from Russia nuclear pact

US President Donald Trump takes the stage during a campaign rally at US Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati. Source: SIPA USA

The US is pulling out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, citing non-compliance by Moscow.

The United States has formally withdrawn from a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia after determining that Moscow was in violation of the treaty, something the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

US President Donald Trump made the determination that the United States would terminate adherence to the 1987 arms control accord, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), senior administration officials told reporters.

The treaty bans either side from stationing short and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

Washington signaled its intention six months ago to pull out of the agreement if Russia made no move to adhere to it.

"The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement about the US withdrawal.

"Russia's noncompliance under the treaty jeopardises US supreme interests as Russia's development and fielding of a treaty-violating missile system represents a direct threat to the United States and our allies and partners," Pompeo said.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at US Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at US Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati.
SIPA USA

The senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russia had deployed "multiple battalions" of a Russian cruise missile throughout Russia in violation of the pact, including in western Russia, "with the ability to strike critical European targets."

Russia denies the allegation, saying the missile's range puts it outside the treaty, and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty Washington wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles.

Russia has also rejected a US demand to destroy the new missile, the Novator 9M729, which is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

In response to the US move, Russia said it had asked the United States to declare and enforce a moratorium on the deployment of short and intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

"We have proposed to the United States and other NATO countries that they weigh the possibility of declaring the same kind of moratorium on the deployment of short and intermediate range missiles as ours, like the one announced by Vladimir Putin," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at the State Department in Washington USA.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at the State Department in Washington USA.
EPA

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the US Senate, eliminated the medium-range ground-launched missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

The treaty bans land-based missiles with a range between 500-5500 km.

Some experts believe the treaty's collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to head of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service Igor Artemyev during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to head of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service Igor Artemyev during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
AP

European officials have voiced concern that Europe could again become an arena for nuclear-armed, intermediate-range missile build-ups by the US and Russia.

Trump has said he would like to see a "next-generation" arms control deal with Russia and China to cover all types of nuclear weapons.

China is not a party to nuclear arms pacts between the US and Russia and it is unclear how willing Beijing would be to be drawn into talks.

China's Foreign Ministry has reiterated that the country had no interest in joining such talks.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch