Russia cautions as Trump moves to take US out of N-arms pact
22 October 2018
Russia has warned against US President Ronald Trump’s move to withdraw from a nuclear weapons treaty, calling it a dangerous step, after Trump announced plans to pull out of the Cold War era treaty.
President Trump said Washington would withdraw from a landmark Cold War-era treaty that eliminated nuclear missiles from Europe because Russia was violating the pact, triggering a warning of retaliatory measures from Moscow.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, required elimination of short-range and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles by both countries.
“Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump told reporters on Saturday after a rally in Nevada.
"This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency TASS.
The treaty is "significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability," he stressed. Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions "through a method of blackmail", he added.
If the US continues to act "clumsily and crudely" and unilaterally back out of international agreements "then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology," Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency.
"But we would not want to get to this stage," he added. On Saturday, Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan.
"We're the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we've honoured the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honoured the agreement, so we're going to terminate the agreement and we're going to pull out," said Trump. But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump's accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington.
"We don't just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way," he insisted. "And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the US itself." US National Security Advisor John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.
Gorbachev, now a frail 87-year-old, said it would be a mistake for Washington to quit the treaty, and it would undermine work he and US counterparts did to end the Cold War Arms race.
“Do they really not understand in Washington what this could lead to?” Interfax news agency quoted Gorbachev as saying.
A Kremlin spokesman said Russian President Vladimir Putin would seek answers about the planned withdrawal when he meets John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, for scheduled talks in Moscow this week.
US authorities believe Moscow is developing and has deployed a ground-launched system in breach of the INF treaty that could allow it to launch a nuclear strike on Europe at short notice. Russia has consistently denied any such violation.
Trump said the United States will develop the weapons unless Russia and China agree to a halt on development. China is not a party to the treaty.