US effectively withdraws from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

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“Russia has failed to comply with its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and as such, the United States has withdrawn from the INF Treaty effective today, Aug. 2, 2019. This withdrawal is a direct result of Russia’s sustained and repeated violations of the Treaty over many years and multiple presidential administrations,” United States Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper said in a statement.

“In light of Russia’s noncompliance, the Department of Defense commenced Treaty-compliant research and development activities beginning in 2017. The department’s initial research and development efforts focused on mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems. Because the United States scrupulously complied with its obligations to the INF Treaty, these programs are in the early stages,” Esper added.

The Pentagon chief said that “the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions and as part of the Joint Force’s broader portfolio of conventional strike options.”

“The United States will not remain a party to a treaty while Russia is in deliberate violation. The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies as we move forward in implementing the National Defense Strategy, protecting our national defense and building partner capacity,” he added.

The United States government provided its six-month notice of withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on February 2, 2019 due to what it said Russian Federation’s continuing violation of the treaty.

When asked during a interview on August 2 en route to Sydney, Australia, Esper said he would like to deploy conventional ground-based, intermediate-range missiles in Asia.

“I would prefer months,” he said when asked for a timeline. “But these things tend to take longer than you expect.”

“I wouldn’t speculate because all those things depend on our plans. Those are things we – you always discuss with your allies. There’s a number of factors that weigh in there, so I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We need to first focus on programs and getting the systems right,” he said when asked specifically where in Asia.