On Friday, the Trump Administration officially announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the INF Treaty, a Cold War-era nuclear missile agreement with Russia, though both sides have accused the other of violating its terms. The move has the potential to kick off a new arms race between the super powers.

President Donald Trump issued the statement early Friday, a decision that many experts have been expecting for months.


“Tomorrow, the United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the INF Treaty,” the president said. “For arms control to effectively contribute to national security, all parties must faithfully implement their obligations.”


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The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The treaty was intended to effectively prohibit the two powers from fielding surface-launched cruise missiles with a range of 310-3,420 miles. However, since then both sides have built up stockpiles of these weapons and made improvements upon them.

Trump declared last October that the United States would leave the treaty if Russia failed to comply with its terms. Since that time, hurried talks have taken place between the two countries in order to compel Moscow to comply. Those discussions quickly fizzled as neither side could reach an agreement. Though the process for withdrawal has already begun, the U.S. won’t be completely out of the INF for at least another six months, giving Russia a short amount of time to adhere to the decades-old agreement before its dissolved for good.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the U.S. announcement that it was withdrawing from the INF stating, “our American partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the treaty, and we are suspending it too.”

“All of our proposals in this sphere, as before, remain on the table, the doors for talks are open,” he added.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg supported the United States’ decision to end the treaty in an interview with BBC. “All [European] allies agree with the United States because Russia has violated the treaty for several years. They are deploying more and more of the new nuclear capable missiles in Europe,” he said.

Yet critics see the president’s latest move to suspend U.S. adherence to the INF treaty as yet another gift from Trump to Russia. Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons policy expert wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post that “when someone breaks the law, the answer is not to repeal that law. There are well established methods for bringing an offending nation back into compliance.”

“This is a gift to Vladimir Putin,” Cirincione told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “He’s the one who now gets to deploy as many weapons as he wants because there are no longer any limits on what he can do… and the U.S. takes the blame.”

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