Russian Official: Another Nuclear Pact with US in Trouble

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Russian Federation says the United States should destroy its MK-41 missile-defense launch system deployed in NATO-member Romania in order to return to compliance with a landmark Cold War-era nuclear treaty.

Last week, the United States said it was suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty starting from February 2 and would start the withdrawal process, which would be completed within six months unless Moscow remedied its alleged violations of the bilateral arms control deal.

Russian Federation welcomed an offer by U.S. President Donald Trump to renegotiate a landmark nuclear missile pact after he quit the agreement, while cautioning that it's received no specific proposals yet.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia February 7, 2019.

"Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can't-in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far", Trump said during his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. "So far, we haven't seen anything except for a proposal to sign such a treaty in a handsome room".

U.S. Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson argued in Wednesday's phone call with reporters that there is enough time to discuss the treaty's extension. He noted that the US said it has converted 56 Trident submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles and 41 B-52H strategic bombers that carried nuclear weapons for use with conventional weapons, but stonewalled Russia's repeated requests for a verifiable way to exclude their conversion back to nuclear status. The US accused Russian Federation of building prohibited missiles, but said that it may return to the accord if Moscow eliminates the violation within the next 180 days. However, he said that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would continue to work with Moscow in an effort to bring it into compliance. "If the U.S.is interested, it should spell out its proposal".

Ryabkov also warned that time is running out to begin talks on extending the other key nuclear weapons accord between Russian Federation and the US, the New START treaty, before it expires in 2021.

"We want to emphasize that the United States has been actually breaching its obligations under the INF Treaty for years and de facto created the conditions for the production of missiles prohibited by this agreement", Konashenkov said. Putin's government has pushed back, saying the USA has violated the treaty and not provided any evidence of Russia's alleged infringements. "There are just a couple of steps left. before the revival of nuclear artillery, nuclear mortars, nuclear mines, nuclear grenades and other things like that".

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