17:56 GMT29 March 2020
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    US State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced earlier on Friday that the United States will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on 2 February and would begin the six-month withdrawal process unless Moscow comes back into compliance with the bilateral agreement.

    According to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the real reason behind the US' moves on the issue of arms control was a serious weakening of Washington's positions in the international arena. The ministry stressed that Moscow categorically refutes the methods and means used by the US on the topic of arms control.

    "The Russian Federation consistently, continuously and unconditionally fulfills its obligations in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. We categorically reject the methods and means used by Washington … We are open to close coordination and full-scale cooperation with like-minded states in the interests of strengthening strategic stability and international security", the statement reads.

    Moreover, Moscow will continue to decisively counter any destructive steps regarding arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    "The Russian Federation will continue to resolutely oppose the destructive steps in the field of arms control and non-proliferation by consolidating the international community around a constructive agenda aimed at strengthening the existing international legal system", the ministry said.

    READ MORE: 'INF Treaty is More Important Than US-Russia Bilateral Relations' – Scholar

    "The true reason for such US actions is a real and very serious weakening of the US positions in the international arena and, as a result, Washington's fear of being caught and exposed in the steps taken by the Americans themselves to dismantle the system of international legal agreements and impose on the world a set of rules (‘rules-based order’), formulated by them for their opportunistic foreign policy needs", the statement concludes.

    US President Donald Trump said earlier on Friday that he hopes to establish a new agreement that will be "much better" and will include more countries than are party to the INF Treaty.

    "I hope that we are able to get everybody in a very big and beautiful room and get new treaty that would be much better", Trump told reporters at the White House.

    READ MORE: NATO Has Been Preparing For Collapse of INF Treaty for Months – Report

    Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said earlier in the day that the United States has failed to present any evidence to support its claims alleging Russian violations of the INF Treaty.

    Trump first announced his intention to withdraw from the arms control treaty last October, citing Russia's alleged violations of the bilateral agreement. In December 2018, Pompeo said that Russia had 60 days to start complying with the agreement, or the United States would leave the treaty on 2 February.

    In particular, the United States has repeatedly voiced concern over Russia's Novator 9M729 missile, which, according to Washington, violates the provisions of the nuclear treaty. Moscow has refuted US accusations as unsubstantiated, insisting that the missile was tested at the range permitted by the INF Treaty.

    On 24 October, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Moscow had provided the United States with all information about when and at what distances Moscow tested the 9M729 missile. In addition, Russia has said the United States has deployed launchers for Tomahawk missiles in Romania and Poland in violation of the INF Treaty, as well as developed combat drones and financed research on the development of a ground-launched cruise missile.

    Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry presented at a briefing for foreign military attaches the 9M729 missile of the Iskander-M ballistic missile system, describing its features. According to the ministry, military attaches and representatives of CSTO, BRICS, EU and NATO military-diplomatic corps, as well as some other European and Asian countries were invited to the briefing. However, US, UK, French and German, as well as EU and NATO representatives, did not attend the briefing.

    READ MORE: Claims on NATO Readiness to Use Force in INF Dispute Hinder Dialogue — Moscow

    The INF Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the US in 1987, and provides for the elimination of all nuclear-armed ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, along with their launchers, that operate at ranges of between 500-1,000 kilometres (short-range) and 1,000-5,500 km (intermediate-range).

    Related:

    Japan Suggests Creating New Arms Control Deal If US Quits INF Treaty - Reports
    EU Security Cannot Be Entrusted to US After INF Suspension - German Lawmaker
    Trump Hopes to Negotiate 'Much Better' Deal Than INF Suspended by US
    Austrian Top Diplomat Regrets US Decision to Suspend INF Arms Treaty
    Tags:
    arms control, commitment, withdrawal, security, INF treaty, United States, Russia
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