The United States announced Friday it has formally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Moscow, signed three decades ago.
It has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. "Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday. The termination of the treaty was at the initiative of Washington and the US initially announced in February that this would take place on August 2. The US military is set to test in a few weeks a new non-nuclear mobile-launched cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Russia in Europe.
"Russia cannot maintain military advantage," a senior administration official told media, noting that the US would only look at deploying conventional weapons, not nuclear weapons. International allies, including the United Kingdom, declared support for the move. The end of the treaty means a new global arms race between the two countries, which possess the world's largest nuclear arsenals. Another White House official pointed out that Russia has been deceptive about its military buildup, particularly denying the development of a ground-launched cruise missile in 2014 that is now fielded and poses a security risk to Europe.