Pompeo: US to leave nuclear treaty in 60 days unless Russia complies with terms

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year Pompeo to lead delegation to 'Trump of the Tropics' inauguration The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms MORE said Tuesday that the United States would suspend its obligations under a decades-old nuclear arms pact in 60 days if Russia does not come back into full compliance with the treaty.

Pompeo made the announcement following meetings with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, describing Russia’s violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as part of a broader pattern of “lawlessness” by Moscow on the global stage. 

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE signaled earlier this fall that he planned to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty, citing Russian violations of the agreement. U.S. officials have publicly accused Moscow of violating the treaty since the days of the Obama administration, but Russia has denied the accusations. 

“In light of these facts, 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 told reporters on Tuesday. 

In a separate statement, the NATO foreign ministers formally concluded Russia to be in material breach of the treaty with its development of new ground-based missile systems and urged Moscow to come back into compliance under the terms.  

“Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty,” the NATO foreign ministers said. 

“The United States has remained in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty since it entered into force. Allies have emphasized that the situation whereby the United States and other parties fully abide by the Treaty and Russia does not, is not sustainable,” the statement continued. 

The nuclear arms pact was signed by then-President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and banned the deployment of intermediate-range conventional and nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.

Trump announced in late October that he planned to withdraw from the nuclear arms pact, a decision that has received mixed reviews. While experts and current and former officials broadly agree that Moscow is i n violation of the accord, some have worried whether the decision to withdraw from it could spur an arms race. Some U.S. lawmakers have also criticized Trump for not properly consulting Congress in the decision.

Trump has pledged to “build up” the U.S. nuclear arsenal to pressure Russia, China and other nations to come to the table on future agreements.

On Monday, the president suggested that he, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin would be able to come to an agreement to halt “a major and uncontrollable arms race,” describing U.S. defense spending as “crazy.”

“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race,” Trump tweeted. “The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”