US closer to pulling out of nu­clear treaty


The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is poised to an­nounce Fri­day that it is with­draw­ing from a treaty that has been a cen­ter­piece of su­per­power arms con­trol since the Cold War and whose demise some an­a­lysts worry could fuel a new arms race.

An Amer­i­can with­draw- al, which has been ex­pected for months, would fol­low years of un­re­solved dis­pute over Rus­sian com­pli­ance with the pact, known as the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces, or INF, treaty. It was the first arms con­trol mea­sure to ban an en­tire class of weapons: ground-launched cruise mis­siles with a range between 310 miles and 3,100 miles. Rus­sia de­nies that it has been in vi­o­la­tion.

U.S. of­fi­cials also have ex­pressed worry that China, which is not party to the 1987 treaty, is gain­ing a sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary ad­van­tage in Asia by de­ploy­ing large num­bers of mis­siles with ranges be­yond the treaty’s limit. Leav­ing the INF treaty would al­low the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to counter the Chi­nese, but it’s un­clear how it would do that.

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said in early De­cem­ber that Wash­ing­ton would give Moscow 60 days to re­turn to com­pli­ance be­fore it gave for­mal no­tice of with­drawal, with ac­tual with­drawal tak­ing place six months later. The 60-day dead­line ex­pires on Satur­day, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­pected to say as early as Fri­day that ef­forts to work out a com­pli­ance deal have failed and that it would sus­pend its com­pli­ance with the treaty’s terms.

The State De­part­ment said Pom­peo would make a pub­lic state­ment on Fri­day morn­ing, but it did not men­tion the topic.

In a tweet Thurs­day, the chief spokes­woman for NATO, Oana Lungescu, said there are no signs of get­ting a com­pli­ance deal with Rus­sia.

“So we must pre­pare for a world without the Treaty,” she wrote.

Tech­ni­cally, a U.S. with­drawal would take ef­fect six months af­ter this week’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion, leav­ing a small win­dow for sav­ing the treaty. How­ever, in talks this week in Bei­jing, the U.S. and Rus­sia re­ported no break­through in their dis­pute, leav­ing lit­tle rea­son to think ei­ther side would change its stance on whether a Rus­sian cruise mis­sile vi­o­lates the pact.

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