USA envoy Bolton holds talks with Russia's Lavrov on nuclear treaty

Aaron Brown
October 23, 2018

National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump's plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

In Washington, the US president reiterated his concern about the treaty and said the United States would build up its nuclear arsenal.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty "will make the world more dangerous" and rejected United States claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so.

"We condemn the continuing attempts to achieve Russia's concessions through blackmail, moreover in such an issue which has importance for worldwide security and security in the nuclear weapons sphere, for maintaining strategic stability", he said.

"We have no ground-based (missile) capability that can threaten China because of, among other things, our rigid the treaty", Harris told a Senate hearing in March, without calling for the treaty to be scrapped.

The Kremlin denied any such violation and suggested that it was Washington - and not Moscow - that had failed to comply with the pact.

The INF was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mr Bolton made his shocking comments during an appearance on Echo of Moscow radio, a Russian-owned station, on Monday.

Mr Trump said the United States would build up its arsenal "until people come to their senses".

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Bolton said Russian Federation was violating its commitments under the pact, an allegation Moscow has denied.

The two men also discussed a possible extension by five years of the New START arms control treaty, which expires in 2021, the Security Council said.

In Moscow, Russian officials warned the United States that abandoning the treaty would be "dangerous" and any effort to develop weapons that would violate the pact would force Russia to take steps to restore the balance of power. "If it continues to unilaterally withdraw from agreements, different kinds of accords and mechanisms. then we will have nothing left to do but to take retaliatory measures, including ones of military and technological nature".

Trump, who has withdrawn the USA from several worldwide accords, made the announcement ahead of United States national security adviser John Bolton's visit to Moscow. "But until they get smart, there's nobody that's going to be even close to us". Harry Harris, who led USA military forces in the Pacific before becoming US ambassador to Seoul, said earlier this year that the United States was at a disadvantage.

Its demise could raise the prospect of a new arms race, and Gorbachev, now 87, has warned that unraveling it could have catastrophic consequences.

Putin last week raised eyebrows by saying Russians would "go to heaven" in the event of nuclear war and that Moscow would not use nuclear weapons first.

Just over 30 years ago the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to ban all conventional and nuclear missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a unilateral withdrawal from the treaty "will have a multitude of negative effects".

U.S. politics has been rocked by a series of accusations about potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The two states are also at odds over Russian support for Bashar Assad's regime in Syria's civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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