The United States will officially withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on Friday, clearing the way for a new arms race with Russia – and throwing China into the mix.
The treaty – concluded by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 – limited the Cold War powers’ medium-range missiles, both conventional and nuclear.
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump’s administration announced its intention to ditch the agreement, accusing Moscow of repeatedly violating its terms – a charge Russia denied.
“I think the INF Treaty has served us well, but it only works if both parties comply,” new US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said recently.
“The United States will remain in compliance with all of our obligations until August 2nd – and after that point in time, we will continue to pursue what is in our best interest,” he told lawmakers.
Washington formally launched the procedure of leaving the treaty on February 1 – a six-month process.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill suspending Moscow’s participation on July 3.
Unless something changes in the coming days, the mutual withdrawal will spell the end of the deal, which eliminated a range of missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310-3,420 miles).
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