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US likely to announce on Feb 1 withdrawal from historic nuclear arms treaty

The US alleges that Russia's 9M729 ground-launched missiles violate the INF restriction on mid-range nuclear forces.PHOTO: AFP

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

WASHINGTON D.C., Feb 1, 2019, DPA. The United States is on Friday (Feb 1) likely to announce its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, according to information obtained by dpa, reported The Straits Times.

The US has informed its Nato allies of its intention, according to the information. The alliance plans to support the decision through a declaration as soon as possible after the announcement is made.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to speak at a news conference in Washington on Friday morning.

There has been no formal indication from the State Department that the topic of the briefing will be the treaty, but State Department officials indicated in comments on Thursday (Jan 31) that the US is prepared to stop abiding by the bilateral mid-range nuclear arms treaty.

The briefing also comes one day after an attempt to rescue the treaty failed. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Russia sees “no progress” on maintaining the more than 30-year-old treaty.

“The US position remains rather tough and ultimatum-like,” Mr Ryabkov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS. Mr Ryabkov spoke after meeting US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson in Beijing.

The Trump administration warned in December that it would walk away from the bilateral treaty if Russia did not comply within 60 days, setting Feb 2 – Saturday – as the deadline.

The US alleges that Russia’s 9M729 ground-launched missiles violate the INF restriction on mid-range nuclear forces. It says the missiles’ capabilities are within the banned range of 500km to 5,500km and wants Russia to destroy them.

Russia has denied the accusations and says scuttling the treaty would jeopardise international stability.

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