NATO urges Russia to uphold nuclear deal after U.S. threatens exit

December 04, 2018

 


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Dec. 4. (FRANCISCO SECO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

By JONATHAN STEARNS Bloomberg

 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization signalled Russia must comply soon with a landmark arms-control agreement or face the deal’s demise, papering over internal differences about a U.S. threat to withdraw from the pact.

NATO foreign ministers said Russia is jeopardizing the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty by deploying ground-launched missiles that fall within the banned range of 500 kilometres to 5,500 kilometres. The 29-nation alliance, which the U.S. dominates, said the Kremlin needs to show compliance “urgently.”

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged in October to abandon the 31-year-old INF accord as a result of alleged Russian violations. The announcement sparked concerns in Europe and still needs to be notified to trigger a six-month expiry period.

“We call on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance,” the NATO foreign ministers said in a statement released on Tuesday in Brussels. “It is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.”

The planned U.S. withdrawal has created the kind of trans-Atlantic rift that followed Trump’s abandonment of landmark international agreements to curb Iran’s nuclear program and to fight climate change.

In the case of the INF accord, however, Europe sought to find a last-minute degree of common ground by arguing that any unilateral U.S. withdrawal without giving Russia a final chance to show goodwill would let the Kremlin point the finger at Trump.

That stance was echoed by three American Democratic senators who said on Monday that quitting the agreement unilaterally would be a “political and geostrategic gift to Russia.”

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has called the INF accord outdated, saying it doesn’t address the rising Chinese military threat.

While Pompeo was on his way to Brussels for the NATO meeting, a senior State Department official said the U.S. wanted to “stay in sync” with allies over how to address Russia’s non-compliance.

Leave a Reply