The Trump administration said that it will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, effective February 2, 2019. The administration said that Russia is not complying with the treaty.
In a statement, President Donald Trump explained the decision to leave the treaty, saying, “The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
The process of leaving the treaty is expected to be completed in six months, but Trump said that the U.S. would consider complying with the treaty if Russia destroys all of its missiles, launchers, and associated equipment prohibited by the treaty.
NATO released a statement in support of the Trump administration’s decision. “Unless Russia honours its INF Treaty obligations through the verifiable destruction of all of its 9M729 systems, thereby returning to full and verifiable compliance before the U.S. withdrawal takes effect in six months, Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the treaty,” the statement said.
In 2014, members of the Obama administration accused Russia of violating the treaty because of its development of a 9M729 cruise missile, and the Trump administration reiterated the same concerns in December 2018.
The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the use of intermediate- and shorter-range rockets. It also prohibits testing, producing, or fielding ground-based missiles.