United States would pull out from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, US President Donald Trump said, and bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on China and Russia after the latter had reportedly violated the INF deal, which Moscow denies. The Cold War-era treaty put a ban on medium-range missiles, reducing the perceived Soviet threat to European countries. Moscow was clear, saying that it would respond accordingly if the US develops more weapons.
Mr. Trump responded that the US would build up its arsenal “until people come to their senses” adding that “it’s a threat to whoever you want to include China and it includes Russia and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game… [Russia has] not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself.” In the meantime, US National Security Adviser John Bolton has been visiting Moscow for talks regarding the US plan to say ‘goodbye’ to the deal. Mr Bolton was told by his Russian counterparts that the US pull-out from the deal would be a “serious blow” to the non-proliferation regime. At the same time, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev also said that the Kremlin was “ready” to work with the US to improve the mutual relationship.
As Mr Bolton began his visit, Moscow warned it would take steps to maintain the balance of nuclear power. “We need to hear the American side’s explanation on this issue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented. “Scrapping the treaty forces Russia to take steps for its own security.” The INF was signed as an arms control agreement by US President Ronald Reagan and USSR’s General Secretary Mikhail Gorbatchev. The treaty eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, but left out sea-launched missiles. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated.