Russia remains “in material breach” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the US said Tuesday, raising the prospect that Washington will follow through on threats to ditch the agreement over alleged violations by Moscow.
US and Russian diplomats met in Geneva amid widespread concern over the fate of the bilateral agreement, after US President Donald Trump said in October his country would pull out of the deal unless Russia lived up to its terms.
“The meeting was disappointing as it is clear Russia continues to be in material breach of the Treaty and did not come prepared to explain how it plans to return to full and verifiable compliance,” US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Andrea Thompson, said in a statement.
“Our message was clear: Russia must destroy its noncompliant missile system,” she added.
Russia hosted the talks at its mission in Geneva and Moscow’s delegation was led by deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov.
There was no immediate comment available from Russia after the discussions, but ahead of the talks Ryabkov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying he was not optimistic for progress.
“Recently we have noted that the American side has even hardened its tone, we see that as not a very favourable signal,” he said Monday, according to Interfax.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would withdraw within 60 days from the Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms if Russia does not dismantle missiles that the US claims breach the deal. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the US hardline by threatening to develop more nuclear missiles banned under the treaty.
The landmark treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and led to nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles being eliminated.
It put an end to a mini-arms race in the 1980s triggered by the Soviet Union’s deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western European capitals.