19 Dec 2017 13:31

Moscow does not rule out U.S.'s plans to secede from INF Treaty, pledges instant mirrored response

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) - Moscow believes that the United States is looking for a pretext to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and is pledging an instant mirrored response, the Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, Mikhail Ulyanov, told Interfax in an interview on Tuesday.

"The stubborn reluctance [of Washington] to support its allegations about us with coherent evidence is making stronger our conviction that the United States may set tasks, which would be a far cry from keeping the INF Treaty viable or even be the opposite of that. What is more, it is quite possible that the escalating propaganda could be the sign of Washington's course towards secession from this treaty [much like the United States quit the ABM Treaty in the past]. They cannot find a real pretext, so they are trying to create one by making conjectures," Ulyanov said.

As to what Russia may do given those circumstances, Ulyanov cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying, "If the American partners have a wish to withdraw from this treaty, our response will be instant and mirrored."

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 into law on December 12; the act assigns funds for the development of a ground-based conventional cruise missile mounted on a mobile platform and operating at a range prohibited by the INF Treaty, Ulyanov said. "The Americans say that the treaty does not prohibit research and development. They also say they have to take this step as part of measures bound to 'bring Russia back to the treaty' and put an end to its 'violation'," he said.

"This is part of the phantasmagoria, in which Russia is baselessly and speculatively accused of 'breaching the INF Treaty' and which results from the U.S. wish to discredit Russia and artificially escalate tensions to pressure Moscow," Ulyanov said.