WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will soon announce plans to suspend compliance with a landmark nuclear missile pact with Russia, responding to an alleged violation of the treaty by Moscow, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The move would start a six-month countdown that could lead to permanent U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 arms control accord, which bans either side from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe, the officials said.
However, Washington could choose not to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), if Russia comes into compliance with the treaty within that time frame.
The United States alleges that a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact. The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Russia denies the allegation, saying the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty, and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty Washington wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles. Russia has also rejected a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.