US Attempt to 'Bury' INF Treaty Creates New Risks for Europe - Lavrov

Russia's Peresvet laser complex       The Krasnaya Zvezda

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned his country will build nuclear-tipped missiles if the USA withdraws from a Cold War-era arms pact that bans such development. President Trump has threatened to rip the agreement up and issued Moscow with a 60-day ultimatum to come clean about what they say is a violation of the treaty which keeps missiles out of Europe.

The latest spike in tensions came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would withdraw from a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms within 60 days if Russian Federation does not dismantle missiles that the US claims breach the deal.

Pompeo said at a meeting with fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers on Tuesday that there was no reason the United States "should continue to cede this crucial military advantage" to rival powers.

A joint statement from NATO foreign ministers said: "Allies have concluded that Russian Federation has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security".

"They thought we would not notice", the Kremlin chief said, claiming the Pentagon has already earmarked an amount for the development of missiles banned by the treaty.

"There are no new USA missiles in Europe, but there are new Russian missiles, SSC-8, they are mobile, they are hard to detect, they are nuclear capable", he stated.

"During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period", he said.

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But Mr Putin says the accusation is a pretext for the U.S. to leave the pact.

But it was a bilateral treaty between the United States and the then Soviet Union, so it puts no restrictions on other major military actors like China.

If Russia does not comply within the 60-day deadline, the U.S. will begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the INF treaty.

Until then, Pompeo said, the USA would not "test or produce or deploy any systems" that would breach the treaty.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was "essential to act in a firm and united way", warning Moscow it would bear the responsibility if the treaty collapsed.

"The High Representative stressed that the Treaty is key to European and global security and that it is in all our interests that the Treaty is preserved and fully implemented", the EU External Action Service (EEAS) press service said in a statement.

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