US President Donald J Trump has announced that the country will pull out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
The decisive action holds Russia responsible for the violation and collapse of the treaty, which was signed between the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1987.
The INF Treaty required the parties not to produce, possess, or flight-test 500km and 5,500km range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment.
In a statement, Trump said: “Russia has not, unfortunately, honoured the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re going to pull out.
“Violations must have consequences. Nearly six years of diplomacy and more than 30 meetings have failed to convince Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty. Enough is enough.”
Currently, countries such as China and Iran, which are not bound by the treaty, possess more than 1,000 INF Treaty-range missiles each.
The US will now focus on the development of its own intermediate-range, conventionally armed, ground-launched missile system.
Trump added: “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with Nato and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
In December, Nato allies concluded that the deployment of Russia’s ground-launched cruise missile system violated the pact.
Russia was given a 60-day opportunity to return to compliance by verifiably destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment.
Effective 2 February, the US will suspend its obligations under the pact and begin the withdrawal process that will be completed in six months.
US State Secretary Michael R Pompeo said: “The United States is hopeful that we can put our relationship with Russia back on a better footing, but the onus is on Russia to change course from a pattern of destabilising activity, not just on this issue but on many others as well.”