U.S. withdraws from Soviet-era nuclear missile accord with Russia

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(Reuters) – The United States formally withdrew from a landmark 1987 nuclear missile pact with Russia on Friday after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied. 

Washington signaled it would pull out of the arms control treaty six months ago unless Moscow stuck to the accord. Russia called the move a ploy to exit a pact that the United States wanted to leave anyway in order to develop new missiles. 

President Donald Trump told reporters he would like to seal a new arms deal with Russia reducing all nuclear forces, and possibly with China as well.

The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was negotiated by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike on short notice.

The dispute is aggravating the worst U.S.-Russia friction since the Cold War ended in 1991. Some experts believe the treaty’s collapse could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.

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