The Trump administration just announced that it will give Russia 60 days to comply with a decades-old missile treaty or the US will withdraw from it — potentially kickstarting an arms race.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting Tuesday that Moscow is in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, an arms agreement signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987. The agreement prohibits Washington and Moscow from building ground-launched cruise missiles that could fly between 310 and 3,400 miles.
Both countries signed the accord to improve relations toward the end of the Cold War. However, both sides still could — and since have — built up cruise missiles that can be fired from the air or sea.
Pompeo rightfully noted that Russia has clearly violated that agreement in recent years. In 2014, the Obama administration blamed the Kremlin for testing a cruise missile in direct violation of the accord. (Russia says the US has violated the agreement too, a charge the US denies.)
And NATO foreign ministers, including Pompeo, agreed in a Tuesday joint statement for the first time “that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system ... which violates the INF Treaty,” adding “it is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.”
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