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Stances of U.S., Russia on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his intention to withdraw his country from the decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because "Russia has violated the agreements."

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Duma (the Lower House of the Federal Assembly) slashed back respectively on Sunday, denouncing such allegations and vowing to response with military, technological and other means necessary should Washington insist on pulling out willfully.

The INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, is an arms control agreement signed on Dec. 8, 1987 by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and then USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington.

The deal marked the first-ever pact reached by Washington and Moscow on nuclear disarmament and a major step forward in restricting arms race. However, Washington's withdrawal would put the whole world in an arms control crisis, State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairperson Leonid Slutsky said on Sunday.

The landmark treaty, which came into force in 1988, obliged both countries to eliminate ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles within three years' time, and not to test, deploy or possess these weapons in the future.

The stipulation covers short-range missiles (500 to 1,000 km) and medium-range missiles (1,000 to 5,500 km), including conventional and nuclear warhead missiles as well as ground-based launchers.

To ensure the implementation of the treaty, both parties are allowed to conduct on-site inspections.

According to the inspections, as of the beginning of 2001, Russia and three other CIS countries destroyed 889 medium-range missiles and 587 launchers, 957 medium- and short-range missiles and 238 launchers while the United States, 677 medium-range missiles and 288 launchers, 169 medium- and short-range missiles and one launching device.

In recent years, Washington and Moscow have been involved in several rounds of finger-pointing on this issue. As early as 2014, U.S. media reported that Moscow violated the treaty with 9M729 ground-base cruise missiles, which had a range of less than 5,500 km.

In December 2017, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused Washington of violating the treaty, arguing that the missile defense system in Romania -- also scheduled for deployment in Poland this year -- could launch Tomahawk medium-range missiles apart from interceptor missiles.

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in March 2018 that Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement on the development of missile forces confirmed that Russia had been developing "destabilizing weapons systems for over a decade, in direct violation of its treaty obligations."

Sergei Ryzhkov, head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, pointed out in May 2018 that Washington produced a series of target missiles.

The missiles' tactical and technical characteristics, especially the flight range, belong to the class of short-range and medium-range missiles, Ryzhkov said.


 



 
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