[ti:US Leaves INF Treaty, Says Russia ‘Solely Responsible’]
[00:00.68]The United States officially withdrew from a nuclear missile agreement with Russia on Friday after it found that Russia was in violation of the treaty.
[00:17.64]Russian officials have repeatedly denied violating the agreement.
[00:25.20]The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was signed when Russia was part of the Soviet Union.
[00:38.04]The treaty banned both sides from deploying land-based missiles able to travel a distance of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
[00:52.40]It reduced the possibility of either side launching a nuclear strike with little warning.
[01:02.56]Six months ago, the U.S. government said it planned to pull out of the arms control treaty unless Russia honored the agreement.
[01:14.00]Russia said U.S. officials were making claims simply to justify their desire to withdraw from the treaty.
[01:24.52]"The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is...violated by Russia," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
[01:37.28]"Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise," he added.
[01:44.84]At the center of the dispute is a U.S. demand that Russia destroy a new missile called the Novator 9M729, known to the NATO military alliance as the SSC-8.
[02:05.36]NATO says the SSC-8 has a range of about 1,500 kilometers and violates the treaty.
[02:16.96]Russia refuses to destroy the missiles, and says their range is less than 500 kilometers.
[02:26.88]U.S. officials who did not want their names used in news reports said Russia had deployed the missiles
[02:35.62]throughout Russia "with the ability to strike critical European targets."
[02:43.08]Also on Friday, Russia said it had asked the United States for a halt on the deployment of short and intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
[02:58.32]Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was reported as saying that Russia
[03:05.04]had asked the U.S. and NATO countries to join them in honoring the moratorium.
[03:12.84]The TASS Russian news service reported his comments.
[03:18.84]NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg refused the minister's request on Friday.
[03:27.04]He said it was "not a credible offer" since Russia had already deployed illegal missiles.
[03:35.96]"There are no new U.S. missiles, no new NATO missiles in Europe, but there are more and more new Russian missiles," Stoltenberg said.
[03:51.56]U.S. President Donald Trump said he is hopeful a new agreement can be negotiated to replace the 1987 treaty.
[04:03.08]"Russia would like to do something on a nuclear treaty and that's OK with me.
[04:09.16]They would like to do something and so would I," Trump said to a question from VOA Thursday.
[04:19.00]But the president said "we didn't discuss the INF" when he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
[04:31.36]In his statement, however, Pompeo said Trump was "seeking a new era of arms control."
[04:39.48]He called on Russia and China "to join us in this opportunity to deliver real security results to our nations and the entire world."
[04:53.96]At United Nations headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was concerned about the treaty's expiration.
[05:08.24]"This will likely heighten, not reduce, the threat posed by (nuclear) missiles," he told reporters on Thursday.
[05:19.16]The treaty has helped to guarantee security in Europe for more than 30 years.
[05:26.56]It bans the development and deployment of ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
[05:38.32]Many European leaders fear a renewed arms race with the end of the treaty.
[05:45.00]They called on both the U.S. and Russian governments to work to keep it.
[05:51.88]I'm Susan Shand.