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Russia Says “No Progress” on Nuclear Treaty Before Deadline

MOSCOW – Moscow and Washington have made “no progress” in negotiations on safeguarding a key arms control treaty, a Russian diplomat said Thursday. The United States should start retiring this weekend, AFP reported Friday.
Russian and US officials meet on the sidelines of a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Beijing to discuss the fate of the Intermediate Range Nuclear (INF) Treaty – a source of tension between Moscow and Washington.
There has been no progress yet, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said after an interview with Andrea Thompson, Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
The US warned they would begin a six-month treaty withdrawal process on Feb 2nd unless Russia removes its 9M729 ground missile system, which would violate the wartime agreement.
Ryabkov described the US position as “rather harsh, like an ultimatum” and “destructive,” the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“We have made no progress, and we affirm this not only with sadness, but with deep concern for the fate of the treaty, European and international security,” said Ryabkov.
Last week, the Russian military introduced the 9M729 nuclear-capable missile system to the media and foreign military officials to prove that the weapon did not violate the treaty.
Russia stated that the maximum range of the missile was 480 kilometers (300 miles) and within authorized limits.
Washington, however, has stated that a static display of the cruise missile did not prove that its scope did not violate the agreement.
Signed in 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty prohibits missiles launched from the ground with a range of 500 to 5,500 km.
This has put an end to a dangerous build-up of nuclear warheads in Europe, but it is to be feared that a similar situation will reappear.
US authorities have said that if Russia does not meet the February 2nd deadline, the Pentagon will start working on its own missile system, which would otherwise be banned by the treaty.
Russia said that because Washington’s claims were unfounded, the agreement would remain in force even if the United States tried to withdraw.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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