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US prepared missile launches breaching INF Treaty at least from October 2018, says Lavrov

On Monday, the Pentagon reported that the US had tested a land-based cruise missile capable of hitting its target after flying over 500 km for the first time after Washington’s exit from the Treaty

MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. Washington launched work in October or even earlier to prepare missile launches violating the INF Treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists on Tuesday.

"This had been prepared since long, long before August 2, when the legal obligations of the sides under the INF Treaty expired formally. We learned about it in October last year, when [US National Security Advisor] John Bolton came for a visit," Lavrov said.

"And he told us, I think that I have already mentioned this to our journalists, that statements by [US President Donald] Trump about the need to withdraw from the treaty were not an invitation for a dialogue, it was the final decision," Lavrov said.

"Apparently back then, or may be even earlier, they began preparations for the launches that have taken place and that violate parameters of the INF Treaty," Lavrov said.

On Monday, the Pentagon reported that the United States had tested a land-based cruise missile capable of hitting its target after flying more than 500 kilometers for the first time after Washington’s exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Washington has repeatedly stated that it could conduct a flight test of a land-based cruise missile in late August. In mid-March, Pentagon officials explained that the issue at hand was the test of a Tomahawk missile at a range of about 1,000 kilometers.

In addition, the US Defense Department plans to test an intermediate-range land-based ballistic missile in November. According to the Pentagon, a completely new missile similar to the Pershing 2 will be tested. The US’ Pershing-II missiles were destroyed under the INF Treaty by 1991.



INF Treaty issue


The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applied to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, 2019, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting on February 2.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4. On July 3, the head of state signed the decree into law after it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

On August 2, Washington formally withdrew from the INF Treaty and the Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, officially confirmed that the Treaty had been terminated at the United States’ initiative.