WASHINGTON — The U.S. is poised to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, citing Russian non-compliance.
“We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other,” President Donald Trump said Friday in a statement. “We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO [The North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
Trump said he intends to formally begin the withdrawal on Saturday, prompting a six-month process before it formally goes into effect.
The treaty, signed in 1987, has restricted the two nations from developing nuclear missiles with ranges between 300-3,420 miles.
NATO determined last December that Russia violated the longstanding treaty by developing a land-based missile system, the 9M729, with a range of 310-3,417 miles.
In a statement, the alliance said they support the U.S.’ decision.
“Unless Russia honours its INF Treaty obligations through the verifiable destruction of all of its 9M729 systems, thereby returning to full and verifiable compliance before the U.S. withdrawal takes effect in six months, Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the Treaty,” NATO said.
The U.S.’ decision has raised concerns that the move could result in a worldwide rush to develop new mid-range missiles.
“The INF Treaty continues to serve as a check on some of the most destabilizing types of nuclear weapons that the U.S. and Russia could deploy,” Thomas Countryman, the board of directors’ chair for the Arms Control Association. “Without the treaty, there is a serious risk of a new intermediate-range, ground-based missile arms race in Europe and beyond.”
The Trump administration acknowledged Friday that an arms race is possible, but stressed that the U.S. can not be held at fault.
“I simply reject the assertion that it is the United States opening the door to an arms race,” a senior administration official said. “If there is to be an arms race, it is Russia’s actions that have undermined the global security architecture.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday that Russia regrets the U.S.’ decision and is dissatisfied with the state of talks between the two nations in the its lead-up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council Friday to discuss the withdrawal, according to the Kremlin.