POTUS, Donald Trump has pulled out of the treaty signed with Russia in 1987, preventing the launching of ground missiles by both countries.
After it appears like Russia has been acting against the dictates of the treaty for some time now, the move was made and may renew fresh diplomatic row with Russia.
What Did President Trump Say?
Speaking to reporters, Mr Trump said Russia had “violated” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The deal banned ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of between 500 and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles).
“The US would not let Russia “go out and do weapons [while] we’re not allowed to”, Mr Trump said.
“I don’t know why President [Barack] Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” the president said after a campaign rally in Nevada. “They’ve been violating it for many years.”
Have There Been Previous Violations?
In 2014, President Obama accused Russia of breaching the INF after it allegedly tested a ground-launched cruise missile. He reportedly chose not to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from European leaders, who said such a move could restart an arms race.
A source from the Russian foreign ministry said the US move was being a Don Quixote of a unipolar world where it is dictating everything and is the only global superpower, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
The US insists the Russians have, in breach of the deal, set up a new medium-range missile called the the Novator 9M729 – known to Nato as the SSC-8.
This, according to the US will enable Russia to launch a nuclear strike at NATO countries even when the notice is very short.
What Is Russia Saying?
Russia has failed to divulge enough information about its new missile other than its denial that the conditions of the treaty have been breached.
According to the BBC, analysts say Russia sees such weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.
The New York Times reported on Friday the US was considering withdrawing from the treaty in a bid to counter China’s expanding military presence in the western Pacific.
The country was not a signatory to the deal, an opportunity which gives it a right to develop medium-range missiles without restraint.
National Security Adviser, John Bolton is expected to tell the Russians of the withdrawal during talks in Moscow later this week.
What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) treaty was signed by the United States and USSR(Russia) in 1987. It was signed between Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev.
The arms control deal was signed to ban all nuclear and non-missiles with short and medium ranges except sea-launched weapons.
The US, worried about the deployment of the SS-20 missile system by Russia, launched its Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe with widespread protests greeting the move.
Nearly 2700 missiles had been destroyed by 1991 with conditions of the treaty giving both countries opportunities to check others’ installations.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin declared the treaty no longer served his country’s interest after the United States opted out of an Anti-Ballistic missile treaty two years after the turn of the new millennium.
The BBC reports that the last time the US withdrew from a major arms treaty was in 2002, when President George W Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons designed to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.
Bush administration’s moves to set up a missile shield in Europe triggered the ire of the Kremlin, and was scrapped by the Obama administration in 2009 in favour of a more modified defence system in 2016.