The American president told Saturday the United States intends to withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) citing Russia’s treaty violations, AP reported.
"We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons" unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, Trump said. Although Trump claims that Russia has violated the deal.
Trump made the announcement following a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada, just one day after the Guardian reported that National Security Adviser John Bolton was pushing the president to leave the treaty.
The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF), which banned ground-launch nuclear missiles with ranges from 500km to 5,500km. Signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, it led to nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles being eliminated, and an end to a dangerous standoff between US Pershing and cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20 missiles in Europe.
The US says Russia has been violating the INF agreement with the development and deployment of a new cruise missile. Under the terms of the treaty, it would take six months for US withdrawal to take effect.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in October 2017 that any withdrawal from Washington would see an "immediate and mirror-like" response from Moscow.
Meanwhile the White House administration has already authorized plans to develop a medium-range missile outlined in the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review.
"Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and they say, ‘Let’s all of us get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’” Trump said, “but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable. So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with our military."
US hawks argue that the INF treaty ties the country’s hands in its strategic rivalry with China in the Pacific, with no response to Chinese medium-range missiles that could threaten US bases, allies and shipping.
Bolton and the top arms control adviser in the National Security Council (NSC), Tim Morrison, are also opposed to the extension of another major pillar of arms control, the 2010 New Start agreement with Russia, which limited the number of deployed strategic warheads on either side to 1,550. That agreement, signed by Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev, then president of Russia, is due to expire in 2021.