[Belgium], Dec 05 (ANI): United States Secretary of State Micheal R Pompeo fired a warning of suspending the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty if Russia did not adhere with the accord within 60 days.
Speaking during a NATO meeting here, Pompeo said that when the INF was signed in 1987, it represented a "good-faith effort between two rivals to de-escalate the threat of nuclear war".
"But whatever successes this treaty helped produce, today we must confront Russian cheating on its arms control obligations. As I told my fellow ministers earlier today, our nations have a choice. We either bury our head in the sand or we take common-sense action in response to Russia's flagrant disregard for the express terms of the INF Treaty," Pompeo said during a press briefing.
The US Secretary of State further stated there have been at least 30 instances since 2013 itself where the US has flagged Russia's non-compliance with the treaty and stressed that "a failure to return to compliance would have consequences".
"The United States today declares it has found Russia in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance," Pompeo said.
The warning comes as a milder version of President Donald Trump's announcement in October stating he had decided to "terminate the agreement," The Washington Post reported.
The INF agreement banned the production and use of nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with a range of 500 to 5, 500 kilometres. The treaty has been the base for Europe's security over three decades, although Trump has stated that it affords China a military advantage over the US as it is not bound by the treaty.
Addressing the issue of other states like North Korea and Iran, apart from China, being free to build intermediate-range missiles, Pompeo said, "There is no reason the United States should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to revisionist powers like China, in particular when these weapons are being used to threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia."
The INF agreement was a turning point in the Cold War as it led to the elimination of over 2,600 missiles and ended the long-standing nuclear stand-off between East and West Europe. Trump's announcement of terminating the treaty raised concerns of a revival of Cold War tensions.
"I regret that we now most likely will see the end of the INF Treaty. We really felt that the world was moving forward when the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987 agreed," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
While the US' withdrawal was slated to go into effect on Tuesday, European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel convinced Trump for a postponement during the recently concluded G20 Summit in Argentina. (ANI)