Pompeo declares Russia in violation of arms control agreement, sets timeline for US withdrawal from pact

WASHINGTON – Russia is “in material breach” of a landmark arms control treaty and the United States will withdraw from the pact in 60 days unless Russia comes back into compliance, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

President Donald Trump had already signaled his intention to pull out of the 1987 arms control treaty but had not put a firm deadline on a withdrawal. Pompeo announced the 60-day window at a NATO meeting in Brussels, calling Russia’s actions part of a “larger pattern of lawlessness.”

” … We either bury our head in the sand or we take common-sense action in response to Russia’s flagrant disregard for the express terms of the INF Treaty,” Pompeo said during a news conference at NATO Headquarters Tuesday.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said last month there was no way for Russia to salvage the treaty and suggested the U.S. would pull out quickly. Pompeo moderated that position on Tuesday, a shift intended to address concerns from European countries that the U.S. withdraw would spark a new arms race and leave them vulnerable to Russian aggression.

“Our European partners appreciate that extra time,” Pompeo said. “They asked for an extended period … And I will tell you, as you speak to the other 28 ministers who are here today, there is complete unity around this.” 

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