Pompeo says USA will suspend arms pact over Russia's 'cheating'

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow Russia

President Vladimir Putin says many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty

Although NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there would now be an intense diplomatic push to try to convince Russian Federation to give up what Pompeo said were "multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles", Washington is set to pull out of the treaty in February.

Britain's chief of the defence staff, General Sir Nick Carter, has also said Russian Federation is in breach of the agreement - telling MPs "we need to call them out" for a deployment of "systems which break the 500km to 5,000km range".

NATO allies led by Germany pressed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting in Brussels to give diplomacy one last chance before Washington pulls out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), fearing a new arms race in Europe. "We either bury our head in the sand or we take common sense action in response to Russia's flagrant disregard for the expressed terms of the INF Treaty", he said.

The U.S. has shared intelligence evidence with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that Russia's new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.

"In light of these facts, the United States today declares it has found Russian Federation in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russian Federation returns to full and verifiable compliance", the secretary of state said.

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President Donald Trump had threatened in late October that he would leave the treaty.

"Russia's violation of the INF Treaty erodes the foundations of effective arms control and undermines Allied security". According to some reports, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, convinced Trump at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires to delay formal withdrawal proceedings until the new year. "We're hopeful they'll change course, but there's been no indication to date that they have any intention of doing so".

Pompeo said Tuesday after NATO allies supported Washington's contention that Russian Federation has violated the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty: "We either bury our head in the sand or we take common sense action" over Russia's contravention of the pact.

The planned USA withdrawal has created the kind of trans-Atlantic rift that followed Trump's abandonment of landmark worldwide agreements to curb Iran's nuclear program and to fight climate change. "Now Russia is attempting to use Crimea to expand its influence and control of the Sea of Azov", Stoltenberg said. Bolton distributed a memo last week informing government officials to prepare for the immediate withdrawal of the USA from the treaty, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to convince Trump to delay that move.

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