USA threatens to pull out of nuclear missile treaty

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The United States will suspend its obligations under a landmark nuclear treaty in 60 days in response to Russia's alleged violation of the pact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

NATO and the United States say the 9M279 - also known by the designation SSC-8 - violates the INF treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.

Pompeo said the United States government had raised the issue at least 30 times since 2013 with Moscow but had faced what he said were denials and counter-actions. "It is now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty".

He said: "Taking into consideration that official representatives of foreign military agencies are in the hall, I would like to send a message to your leadership that if the INF treaty is violated, we won't leave this unanswered".

The activities of the United States, aimed at preserving its predominant role in the world, is one of the main factors deteriorating the worldwide situation.

"The Russian side has repeatedly declared that this is, to say the least, speculation", Zakharova said of the USA allegation.

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gesture as they speak before posing for a family photo during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2018.

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NATO leadership should explore Russia's invitation to review proposals to prevent the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the US Arms Control Association (ACA) said in a press release.

Noting that Ukraine isn't a member of the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies already "provide strong political support and strong practical support".

US ally Germany, which has been keen to preserve the treaty, called on Russian Federation to try to save it while it still has the time.

The bilateral treaty between Washington and Moscow banned all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310-3,410 miles).

"It is now up to Russian Federation to decide over the next 60 days whether it wants to return to full, verifiable compliance, and if not I fully support the Administration's decision to suspend its obligations under the treaty", she said.

While Pompeo did not announce the end of the pact, its demise seems all but certain. Pompeo called the Russian system "a direct menace to Europe", adding that Moscow's actions "greatly undermine America's national security and that of its allies".

"They are not going to change course on the basis of a USA threat to withdraw", Kimball said.

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