US announces withdrawal from INF missile treaty

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The US has begun its withdrawal from the INF Treaty with Russia. The White House announced Friday it was withdrawing from a landmark Cold War-era missile treaty with Russia effective Saturday, raising the specter of a dangerous and costly arms race in Europe, reports.

The withdrawal “will be completed in 6 months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment,” the White House said in a statement.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) bans nuclear-capable missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,420 miles).

The United States and European countries in the NATO military alliance, including Germany, say Russia’s 9M729 cruise missile exceeds the 500 kilometer limit. Russia says the range is limited to 480 kilometers.

“NATO fully supports the US suspension & notification of withdrawal from the Treaty,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

“Russia is in material breach of the INF Treaty & must use next 6 months to return to full & verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise,” he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government would continue working with Russia during the 6-month notice period.

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