US withdraws from INF nuclear treaty with Russia (2nd Lead)

Washington, Aug 2 (IANS) The US on Friday formally withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, it was confirmed by American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise," the BBC quoted Pompeo as saying in a statement.

"With the full support of our Nato allies, the United States has determined Russia to be in material breach of the treaty, and has subsequently suspended our obligations under the treaty," he added.

Russia's Foreign Ministry confirmed the INF treaty is "formally dead" in a statement carried by state-run Ria Novosti news agency.

The INF was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

It banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km, except sea-launched weapons.

Earlier this year the US and Nato accused Russia of violating the pact by deploying a new type of cruise missile, which Moscow has denied, the BBC reported.

The Americans said they had evidence that Russia had deployed a number of 9M729 missiles - known to Nato as SSC-8. This accusation was then put to Washington's Nato allies, which all backed the US claim.

In February, President Donald Trump set the 2 August deadline for the US to withdraw if Russia didn't come into compliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended his country's own obligations to the treaty shortly afterwards.

--IANS

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