Russia Will Develop 'Unique' Weapons if US Exits INF Treaty - Senior Lawmaker

G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires

Pompeo said Russia's violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty undermine American national security and as such, the U.S. should not be "constrained" by a treaty that hampers its ability to respond.

The bilateral treaty between Washington and Moscow banned all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310-3,410 miles).

Foreign ministers from NATO member countries said in a statement Tuesday that they "strongly support the finding of the United States that Russian Federation is in material breach of its obligations" under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Pompeo said there is "complete unity" among NATO members on this decision, and it comes after the Foreign Ministers of NATO released a joint statement that says Russia's development and deployment specifically of the 9M729 missile system "poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security" and "is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty", paving the way for US withdrawal.

It called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance" and declared "it is now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty".

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the U.S. Senate, eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

The U.S. has shared intelligence evidence with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that Russia's new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.

Pompeo said Russian Federation had developed "multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles", referring to the land-based, intermediate-range cruise missile which also has the name of Novator 9M729.

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Washington has said it would be forced to restore the military balance in Europe after the 60-day period but Pompeo declined to elaborate, saying only that tests and deployments of new missiles were on hold until then.

"I regret that we now most likely will see the end of the INF Treaty", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that "no arms control agreement will work if it is only respected by one party".

"They are not going to change course on the basis of a US threat to withdraw", Kimball said.

"Its range makes it a direct menace to Europe", Pompeo said of the missiles, which also are called Novator 9M729. And they have now decided enough is enough, giving Moscow a clear deadline of 60 days to come back into compliance or the United States will itself cease to honour its terms.

The US won strong backing for its position from the rest of the NATO allies, who said in a joint statements that it was "now up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF treaty". And the fear is that the collapse of the INF agreement could help to unravel the whole system of arms control treaties, which have been so important in maintaining strategic stability.

Mr Pompeo said Russian Federation poses a "direct menace" to the continent for allegedly developing cruise missiles that can be launched from land carrying nuclear warheads - potentially hitting European cities at short notice.

His administration's move to set up a missile shield in Europe alarmed the Kremlin, and was scrapped by the Obama administration in 2009.

It is alleged that Moscow has violated the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty - a historic pact that kept such deadly missiles out of Europe.

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