Brussels, Oct 22 (IANS) The European Commission on Monday called on the US and Russia to maintain a constructive dialogue with the aim of keeping intact a crucial Cold War-era treaty limiting the use of intermediate and short-range nuclear missiles.
US President Donald Trump had announced on Saturday that Washington would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed in 1987 by then-US President Ronald Reagan and the General Secretary of the Soviet Union at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev.
“We believe that the US and Russia need to remain engaged in constructive dialogue to preserve the treaty and to ensure its full and verifiable implementation, which is crucial for European and global security,” said the Commission’s foreign affairs spokesperson Maja Kocijancic at a press briefing.
“Thanks to this treaty, almost 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads have been removed and verifiably destroyed,” Kocijancic was cited as saying by Efe news.
“It’s also an important contribution to disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
She added that “the treaty contributed to the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race, while it has been one of the cornerstones of European security architecture since it entered into force 30 years ago”.
Trump claimed that his administration was being forced to unilaterally withdraw from the INF because Russia had allegedly violated the agreement. However, he didn’t provide any evidence other than Russia’s development of a new cruise missile, which Moscow contends does not break the INF.
“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” Trump said. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”
Russian officials slammed the move, with the Foreign Ministry describing it as “blackmail” and “a very dangerous step”.