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

08 December 2018

America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have pressed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to give diplomacy one more chance before pulling out of the deal, fearing a new arms race could be triggered in Europe.

The NATO chief said the alliance is also preparing a contingency plan in case the Kremlin fails to comply and the US pulls out of the accord.

In Brussels, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini urged Russian Federation and the U.S. to save the treaty, warning that Europe did not want to become a battlefield for global powers once again, as it had been during the Cold War.

However they backed USA claims that Russian Federation has land-based nuclear missiles based in Europe.

That included the laser system, as well as an underwater nuclear-powered drone and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

"This was really arms control at its best and therefore it's a really a big setback if this treaty now breaks totally down", he said.

In televised comments, the Russian leader said many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty. 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.

But on Monday, the USA leader said he wants talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin "to head off a major and uncontrollable Arms Race".

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"We are against the destruction of this treaty. A simple one: we will also do this", Putin said.

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.

"We have achieved significant progress in laser weapons", Putin said at the time.

"Allies have emphasised that the situation whereby the United States and other parties fully abide by the Treaty and Russian Federation does not, is not sustainable", they warned.

The statement said the member nations "strongly support" the USA claim that Russian Federation is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance".

He said Russian Federation had developed "multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles" and "its range makes it a direct menace to Europe".

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.

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