US withdraws from nuclear arms control treaty with Russia

The US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Image: Reuters.

DHARAMSALA, Aug 3: The US has formally withdrawn from a nuclear arms control treaty signed during the Cold War-era with Russia.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 binds the parties for the elimination of their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (310-3,400 miles).

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said in a statement on Friday that, “Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise.”

The US and its allies from NATO accused Russia of violating the pact by deploying a new type of cruise missile, which Moscow has denied, reports the BBC.

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed the INF treaty was “formally dead” in a statement carried by state-run Ria Novosti news agency, the report added.

The U.S. formally suspended the treaty on 1 February 2019, and Russia, the following day. The US officially withdrew from the INF Treaty on 2 Aug accusing Russia of non-compliance.

The collapse of the INF Treaty after more than three decades has sparked the fear of a new arms race.  By May 1991, the US and Russia had eliminated 2,692 missiles.

Following the annulment of the nuclear arms control treaty between the two nuclear giant countries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reportedly stated that “an invaluable brake on nuclear war” was being lost while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has described the development as a serious matter and declared an end of a cornerstone in arms control for decades.

Speaking to the reporters after formally withdrawing from the treaty, the US President Donald Trump has said that moving forward, any nuclear arms control treaty should include China.

“We would certainly want to include China at some point, that would be a great thing for the world,” Trump was quoted as saying in media reports hours after his administration formally pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Meanwhile, the US President has said that he has talked with both the countries about a new arms reduction treaty and that they were both excited.

President Trump has said: China was “very excited… and so was Russia.”

According to the Federation of American Scientists, as of July 2019, it is estimated that Russia has 6,500 nuclear war heads followed by the US with 6,185 and Chia with 290. The figures include nuclear warheads in stockpile as well as retired, but still intact.

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