Russia Tests Iskander Ballistic Missile System Amid INF Treaty Spat

Russia Tests Iskander Ballistic Missile System Amid INF Treaty Spat

"They thought we would not notice", the Kremlin chief said, claiming the Pentagon has already earmarked an amount for the development of missiles banned by the treaty.

"The reckless expansion of NATO, the build-up of the alliance's potential on the so-called Eastern flank, the deployment of U.S. missile defence systems in Europe, the illegitimate sanctions under imaginary pretexts - all these things have led to a crisis of confidence in the Euro-Atlantic", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

Putin said about a dozen countries were now producing mid-range missiles of the type banned by the INF treaty.

"Now it seems our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that [they] must also have such a weapon", he said. President Trump has threatened to rip the agreement up and issued Moscow with a 60-day ultimatum to come clean about what they say is a violation of the treaty which keeps missiles out of Europe.

"What's our response? It's simple".

This comes after State Secretary Mike Pompeo threatened USA withdrawal from the treaty if Russian Federation does not comply within 60-days.

"The INF has guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now", Mogherini said as she arrived for talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers.

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The US and NATO say Russia's 9M729 system, also known by the designation SSC-8, violates the INF treaty, which banned ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

If Russia does not comply within the 60-day deadline, the USA will begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the INF treaty.

"I regret that we will now most likely see the end of the INF treaty, but at the same time we don't have any other alternative than to react in the way we do".

The statement said the member nations "strongly support" the United States claim that Russian Federation is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance".

He reportedly chose not to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from European leaders, who said such a move could restart an arms race.

The last time the United States withdrew from a major arms treaty was in 2002, when President George W Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons created to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.

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