A historic Cold War arms control treaty that was signed three decades ago by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was ditched after President Trump decided to withdraw Friday.
The move to scrap the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty comes in midst of the administration’s assessment that Russia was in “material breach of the treaty” and made no effort to “come back into compliance” with the agreement, a senior White House official said.
Russia was given a six-month period, in accordance with the treaty, as a “final opportunity to come back into compliance” with the agreement. But President Vladimir Putin’s government “has made no efforts to do that,” the official added.
The end of the treaty means a new global arms race between the two countries, which possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.
The Trump administration maintained that it was Russia’s fault the treaty came to an end, pointing out that Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Europe.
“Russia alone is to blame for this situation,” the senior official said. “We have taken every opportunity — dozens and dozens of opportunities across two administrations – to bring Russia back into compliance.”
“It is clear that they are in material breach of the INF Treaty, which is, of course, not its only arms control violation. They are a serial violator of arms control agreements,” the official added, noting that “This violation, however, represents a direct security threat to the United States and our allies.”
The U.S. has for a long time argued that the treaty was no longer fair and actually doesn’t stop the arms race as intended as Russia was openly violating it, while China, which is a non-signatory, is free develop weapons that would otherwise be prohibited.