US threatens to pull out of nuclear missile treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev during their meeting at the Novo Ogaryovo residence outside in Moscow Russia on Dec. 3 2018

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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the USA plan to withdraw from a major arms-control pact is "ill-considered" and warned that Moscow will follow suit if Washington pulls out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

The US effort to exit the treaty was spearheaded by John Bolton, Donald Trump's hawkish national security adviser.

The NATO allies vow to "uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation., taking into account the prevailing security environment".

Stoltenberg said that although Russian Federation has a last chance to comply, "we must also start to prepare for a world without the treaty", which was the first to abolish a whole category of weapons.

"The United States declares today it has found Russian Federation in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russian Federation returns to full and verifiable compliance", Pompeo said at a NATO meeting in Belgium.

USA ally Germany, which has been keen to preserve the treaty, called on Russian Federation to try to save it while it still has the time.

Russian Federation takes center-stage at NATO Tuesday as allied foreign ministers meet to debate ways to dissuade Moscow from destabilizing Ukraine and encourage it to respect a landmark Cold-war era nuclear treaty.

Mr Pompeo signalled that, after the 60-day period, Washington would increase its presence in Europe to restore military balance, but declined to give more details.

Stoltenberg said the 29 NATO allies will "collectively develop responses" should the treaty be abandoned, but he declined to say what they might be.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "Russia strictly complies with the provisions of the treaty, and the American side is aware of that".

"They are not going to change course on the basis of a US threat to withdraw", Kimball said. "Now Russia is attempting to use Crimea to expand its influence and control of the Sea of Azov", Stoltenberg said.

Klimkin welcomed the political support he received in Brussels, but said: "We shouldn't just stay on the level of declarations, however strong declarations are".

Otherwise, he said, the U.S. would quit the 1987 accord, considered a milestone in reducing the threat of a nuclear war in Europe.

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