WASHINGTON DC – U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that the United States is withdrawing from its landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.
"Russia has violated the agreement. They've been violating it for many years," the president told reporters before boarding Air Force One in Nevada where he had earlier been involved in a campaign rally.
The president took issue with his predecessor, Barack Obama, for not pulling out of the agreement, saying the U.S. was complying with the terms of the agreement, and Russia was not.
"And I don't know why President Obama didn't negotiate or pull out. And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to," he said.
"We're the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we've honored the agreement. But Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement.”
“So we're going to terminate the agreement. We're gonna pull out," he said.
Why the president singled out Obama for criticism is unclear, the agreement has been in place for more than 30 years, although in recent years there has been concern about Russia’s adherence to the agreement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in fact voiced concerns about it ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels earlier this month.
“We remain concerned about Russia’s lack of respect for its international commitments, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF Treaty,” he said.
“This Treaty abolishes a whole category of weapons and is a crucial element of our security. Now this treaty is in danger because of Russia’s actions. After years of denials, Russia recently acknowledged the existence of a new missile system, called 9M729. Russia has not provided any credible answers on this new missile. All Allies agree that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the Treaty. It is therefore urgent that Russia addresses these concerns in a substantial and transparent manner,” the NATO secretary general said.
The treaty, negotiated by the administrations of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachecv, was signed in December 1987.