WASHINGTON — The world's two greatest nuclear powers are set to pull out of a crucial nuclear weapons treaty beginning this weekend.
The United States and Russia announced Thursday that discussions this week to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty, failed and thus Washington will begin the six-month withdrawal process starting Feb. 2.
"Unfortunately, there is no progress," Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said following the treaty discussions, according to a translation by Reuters. "As far as we understand, the next step is coming, the next phase begins, namely the phase of the United States stopping its obligations under the INF, which will evidently happen this coming weekend."
Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, who is leading U.S. efforts, said that "diplomacy is never done" but that Washington is likely to withdraw from the INF pact.
"The Russians still aren't in acknowledgment that they are in violation of the treaty," Thompson told Reuters.
The INF treaty, signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibited the development and deployment of ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges of 310 miles to 3,420 miles. The agreement forced each country to dismantle more than 2,500 missiles and kept nuclear-tipped cruise missiles off the European continent for three decades.