Donald Trump says the US will “terminate” the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty after claiming that Russia had been noncompliant for years.
“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 [it],” Trump told reporters today at a Nevada campaign rally.
The move comes amid reports that national security advisor John Bolton has been pressuring the US to withdraw from the agreement due to Russia’s ongoing development of cruise missiles. The US believes Russia has been violating the INF since at least 2013, when the Kremlin tested a ground-launched cruise missile.
The Obama administration, which Trump criticized in his remarks, chose not to leave the INF treaty despite alleged Russian violations, due to concerns from European countries like Germany and fears of a potential arms race.
Trump hinted at nuclear escalation today, saying, “If we get smart and if others get smart, and say ‘Let’s not develop these horrible nuclear weapons,’ I would be extremely happy with that. But as long as somebody’s violating that agreement then we’re not going to be the only ones to adhere to it.”
The INF treaty was established during the Cold War by former president Ronald Reagan. It banned missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500km, and led to the destruction of thousands of stored arms on both sides.
Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton was expected to travel to Moscow next week to discuss the US withdrawal. Once enacted, the withdrawal process would take six months.