Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accuses Russian Federation of breaking INF; Pompeo threatens withdrawal

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accuses Russian Federation of breaking INF; Pompeo threatens withdrawal

Pompeo said there is "complete unity" among NATO members on this decision, and it comes after the Foreign Ministers of NATO released a joint statement that says Russia's development and deployment specifically of the 9M729 missile system "poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security" and "is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty", paving the way for USA withdrawal.

Russia, he said, is violating key arms control treaties and undermining the sovereignty of its neighbors, while Iran is flouting U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Mr Pompeo said the choice was to "bury our head in the sand" or "take common sense action" - arguing that the U.S. would "welcome a Russian change of heart" but had not seen evidence suggesting it is likely to comply.

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Foreign ministers from NATO member countries said in a statement Tuesday from Brussels that they "strongly support the finding of the United States that Russian Federation is in material breach of its obligations" under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

President Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton had previously suggested the US would withdraw from the treaty, but Pompeo's announcement Tuesday officially starts the clock.

A state department spokesperson said: "The United States announced a suspension of its obligations, effective 60 days after December 4, unless Russian Federation returns to full and verifiable compliance, as a remedy under customary worldwide law for Russia's material breach".

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Although NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there would now be an intense diplomatic push to try to convince Russian Federation to give up what Pompeo said were "multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles", Washington is set to pull out of the treaty in February.

Foreign ministers from NATO member countries said in a statement Tuesday that they "strongly support the finding of the United States that Russian Federation is in material breach of its obligations" under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

"I regret that we now most likely will see the end of the INF Treaty", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that "no arms control agreement will work if it is only respected by one party". "We hope that they'll change course, but there's been absolutely no indication that they'll do so".

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton had reportedly been pushing to have the US withdraw from this treaty. According to some reports, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, convinced Trump at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires to delay formal withdrawal proceedings until the new year.

But for several years now the U.S. has been increasingly concerned at what it says are Russian efforts to breach the agreement. Stoltenberg said that NATO's "unity" on the issue demonstrated the "strength" of the military alliance and "sends a very clear message about who is responsible for the violations".

Hard to detect and fired from mobile launchers, the Russian missiles are especially unsafe because they reduce the warning time that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air defences might have to shoot them down, military experts say. Pompeo said Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium. The Secretary of State vowed the U.S. would lead "restoration of the liberal order among nations" with the help of other democracies, saying: "Even our European friends sometimes say we're not acting in the free world's interest".

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