President Donald Trump will nullify a landmark arms control pact with Russia that bans all land-based missiles with short and intermediate ranges as well as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, a top State Department official told Reuters. The pact was signed in 1987 by then-President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
“We’ll have an announcement made, follow all the steps that need to be taken on the treaty to suspend our obligations with the intent to withdraw,” Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, told the publication in an interview Thursday.
Thompson’s remarks followed talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Beijing, where Thompson is leading the U.S. delegation at the 2019 P5 Conference.
The U.S. has publicly accused Russia of violating the Soviet-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) since 2014, which Moscow denies. President Trump signaled in October that he planned to withdraw from the treaty.
The U.S. has accused Moscow of breaching the treaty by fielding a new cruise missile known as the 9M729. Russia has denied this, saying the missile has a range of 480 kilometers — 20 kilometers less than the lower limit imposed by the treaty.
The process to formally withdraw from the treaty takes six months, but the U.S. plans to stop complying with it as soon as this weekend, Thompson said.
She said the Pentagon would be able to begin developing longer-range missiles if it so chooses.