Gorbachev says Trump's nuclear treaty withdrawal 'not the work of a great mind'

  • Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, criticized President Donald Trump's threat to withdraw from an international nuclear disarmament treaty, saying the move "is not the work of a great mind."
  • Trump announced at a rally Saturday that he will pull the U.S. from the "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty."
  • Gorbachev signed the original 1987 treaty with Ronald Reagan.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, criticized President Donald Trump's threat to withdraw from an international nuclear disarmament treaty, saying the move "is not the work of a great mind."

Trump announced at a rally Saturday that he will pull the U.S. from the "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," (INF) citing Russian violations of the deal, although he did not give further details.

The 1987 treaty prohibits Russia and the U.S. from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile having a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers or "to possess or produce launchers of such missiles."

Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991, had signed the treaty with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Now 87, Gorbachev said Trump's decision was "very strange" and a mistake.

"Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?" Gorbachev told Russian news agency Interfax on Sunday, adding that the decision "will undermine all the efforts that were made by the leaders of the USSR and the United States themselves to achieve nuclear disarmament."

Gorbachev said that "Washington's aspiration to turn politics back cannot be supported, this must be declared not only by Russia, but by all who cherish the world, especially the world without nuclear weapons."

The treaty marked a historic shift in U.S.-Russian relations and came at a time of Gorbachev-led reforms in Russia — most notably, his policies of "perestroika" and "glasnost" — essentially, a series of political and economic reforms and "openness."

Gorbachev said Sunday that "all agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and the limitation of nuclear weapons must be preserved for the sake of life on Earth."

Kremlin response

A spokesperson for the Kremlin said Monday that if the United States was to withdraw from the treaty and begin developing new missiles, then Russia would be forced to do the same.

Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Trump announcement is "cause for deep concern" as it would "make the world a more dangerous place." He added that the decades-old treaty would be raised at talks with U.S. national security adviser John Bolton this week.

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