President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration is suspending the nation's involvement in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and would begin the formal process of withdrawing from the pact entirely over the next six months.
"For far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad," Trump said in a statement.
"The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions," Trump added. "We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other."
INF treaty obligations will be suspended by the U.S. on Saturday the administration announced and will completely withdraw from the treaty in the next six months.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday in remarks delivered at the State Department that the U.S. "will terminate" the treaty with Russia if they continue to violate the terms.
"For almost 6 years, the United States has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve this agreement," Pompeo said. "We have raised Russia's non-compliance with Russian officials – including at the highest levels of government – more than 30 times."
The INF treaty, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was designed to prevent the U.S. and Russia from possessing and land-based cruise missiles that can strike within a range between 310 and 3,410 miles. The deal was signed in 1987 by the two leaders in an attempt to keep ground-based nuclear weapons out of Europe.
"Russia has jeopardized the United States' security interests, and we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it," Pompeo said.
However, Russia has been accused of repeatedly violating the agreement with the U.S. over the last five years. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it has developed a covert missile system that violates the treaty, leaving America and its allies in Europe at great risk.
The Trump administration gave Russia 60 days to comply with the treaty in December after Pompeo announced that Russia was in "material breach" of the treaty at a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting.
"Allies fully support this action," NATO said in a statement Friday, backing Trump's decision.
"We urge Russia to use the remaining six months to return to full and verifiable compliance to preserve the INF Treaty," NATO said. If not, "Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the Treaty."
Photo: Getty Images