Citing Russia’s ‘material breach’, U.S. sets formal withdrawal from INF treaty

by WorldTribune Staff, February 3, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Feb. 2 said the U.S. plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, citing Russia’s “continued noncompliance.”

The U.S. says Russia’s 9M729 missile system is a ‘material breach’ of the INF.

“Today the United States provided Russia and other Treaty Parties with formal notice that the United States will withdraw from the INF Treaty in six months, pursuant to Article XV of the Treaty,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said Russia’s SSC-8 or 9M729 missile system represents a “material breach” of the treaty.

“If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the Treaty by eliminating all 9M729 missiles, their launchers, and associated equipment in this six-month period, the Treaty will terminate,” Pompeo said.

Moscow only publicly acknowledged the missile system’s existence in November, though it has reportedly been in development since the mid-2000s.

The INF prohibits signatories from having any conventional or nuclear-armed ground-launched missiles of any type with maximum ranges between 310 and 3,420 miles.

Russia has insisted the 9M729 has a range of less that 310 miles.

“The United States has concluded that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the Treaty arising from Russia’s continued noncompliance have jeopardized the United States’ supreme interests, and the United States can no longer be restricted by the Treaty while Russia openly violates it,” Pompeo said.

On Dec. 4, 2018, the United States announced that Russia was in material breach of the treaty and gave the Kremlin 60 days to return to compliance.

“Russia has not taken the necessary steps to return to compliance over the last 60 days,” Pompeo said. “It remains in material breach of its obligations not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.”

Pompeo on Feb. 2 said the United States “has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve the INF Treaty, engaging with Russian officials more than 30 times in nearly six years to discuss Russia’s violation, including at the highest levels of government. In accordance with customary international law, the United States has suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty, effective today.”

Pompeo added: “Regrettably, the INF Treaty is no longer effective due to Russia’s ongoing material breach. Today’s actions are to defend U.S. national security and interests and those of our allies and partners.”

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