US issues 60 days nuclear ultimatum to Russia
Putin rejects US claim Russia breaking arms treaty
BRUSSELS, Dec 5: The United States warned Russia on Tuesday it will withdraw from a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms if Moscow does not dismantle missiles that Washington says breach it within 60 days.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would no longer be bound by the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty unless Moscow withdraws a new system that has threatened to trigger an arms race. NATO said it was now "up to Russia" to save the deal, seen by many as an important part of the global arms control architecture, and alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said it was time to prepare for its demise.
"The United States today declares Russia in material breach of the treaty and we will suspend our obligations as a remedy in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance," Pompeo said after talks with fellow NATO foreign ministers. President Vladimir Putin dismissed US claims Russia is violating a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms, as a senior general lashed out at Washington's attempts to "contain" Moscow.
"First the American side stated its intention to withdraw from the treaty... then it began to look for the justifications for doing so," Putin said in comments carried by Russian news agencies. "The primary justification is that we are violating something. At the same time, as usual, no evidence of violations on our part has been provided," he said. The comments echoed earlier statements from the Russian foreign ministry, which dismissed the accusations against Moscow as "groundless". The US and NATO say Russia's 9M729 system, also known by the designation SSC-8, violates the INF treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres. -AFP