- Officials reject Russian offer to inspect new missile
- US says it will suspend observance of INF treaty on 2 February
The US has rejected Moscow’s offer to inspect a new Russian missile suspected of violating a key cold-war era nuclear-weapons treaty, and warned that it would suspend observance of the agreement on 2 February, giving six-month notice of a complete withdrawal.
The under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, confirmed the US intention to withdraw from the treaty after a meeting with a Russian delegation in Geneva, which both sides described as a failure.
Donald Trump took US allies by surprise when he announced his intention to leave the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in October. The agreement led to the destruction of thousands of US and Soviet weapons, and has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused the US of intransigence, saying Moscow had offered to allow US experts inspect the suspect missile, which it insists does not infringe the limits laid down in the treaty.
“However, US representatives arrived with a prepared position that was based on an ultimatum and centred on a demand for us to destroy this rocket, its launchers, and all related equipment under US supervision,” Lavrov said.
Thompson noted that the US had been demanding Russian transparency over the missile for more than five years. She confirmed that the offer of inspections was not enough and that the US was demanding the destruction of the missile system, known as the 9M729.