Russian Federation asks US to destroy weapons banned by INF Treaty

Mikhail Metzel  TASS

Mikhail Metzel TASS

Russian Federation says the United States should destroy its MK-41 missile-defense launch system deployed in NATO-member Romania in order to return to compliance with a landmark Cold War-era nuclear treaty.

The White House announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as of February 2, setting the stage for the treaty to terminate in six months.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would like to hold talks aimed at creating a new arms control treaty.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson argued in Wednesday's phone call with reporters that there is enough time to discuss the treaty's extension.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that it "categorically denies groundless claims of Russia violating its obligations under the treaty".

Negotiations must be wrapped up by the end of the year, before the US enters a new campaign period for the 2020 elections, said Ryabkov, who expressed alarm at what he described as assurances by USA officials that there's still plenty of time to resolve the issue.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia February 7, 2019.

But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that intelligence gathered by many nations has shown Russia's violations, Reuters reported.

Later on Thursday, though, Russia's Defense Ministry called on the U.S.to stick to the INF treaty and destroy the types of weapons that Russian Federation thinks violates it.

"I will make every possible effort to prevent it", he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, using binoculars as he inspects the joint Zapad-2017 (West-2017) Russian military exercises with Belarus at the Luzhsky training ground in the Leningrad region on September 18, 2017.

"We ended the cold war once because the public cared about it. the hope is that we'll do it again", says Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear weapons expert who worked on non-proliferation issues in the Obama administration. "If the U.S.is interested, it should spell out its proposal".

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