WASHINGTON — The United States and Russia suspended a crucial nuclear weapons treaty on Saturday, a move that has sparked concerns of a budding arms race between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.
Withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Russia 60 days to come back into compliance with the terms of the nuclear weapons pact. Pompeo added that the process could be reversed if Russia came back into compliance.
"Russia has not taken the necessary steps to return to compliance over the last 60 days," Pompeo said in a statement. "It remains in material breach of its obligations not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers."
He added: "The United States has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve the INF Treaty, engaging with Russian officials more than 30 times in nearly six years to discuss Russia's violation, including at the highest levels of government."
Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains that Moscow has not violated the treaty, but will start developing new missiles in the wake of the INF's suspension.
"The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well," Putin said Saturday, during a televised meeting with foreign and defense ministers, according to Reuters. Putin also said that he would not deploy weapons to Europe and other regions unless the U.S. did so.