By Stefan J. Bos
US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson had worrisome news for Russia and rest of the world.
Thompson said she expected Washington to stop complying with a nuclear treaty as soon as this weekend because the two nations had failed to bridge their differences on the implementation of the pact.
In separate remarks, she accused Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) which forbids either side from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe. "This [violation] is going over two administrations for five years...So the Obama administration and now the Trump administration, and Russia still continues to violate the treaty," she said.
"So we raised specific questions. They heard many of them before. And unfortunately, the Russian response is that they continue to violate the treaty," Thompson added.
The United States is especially concerned about a new Russian missile is known as the Novator 9M729 and called the SSC-8 by the US-dominated NATO military alliance.
Russia denies wrongdoing
But Russia says the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty, which was aimed at ending the Cold War between the two powers.
Russia also rejects a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.
And, Moscow accuses the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit the treaty to develop new missiles.
On Thursday U.S. envoy Thomson held last-ditch negotiations with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Beijing ahead of the expiration of a U.S. 60-day deadline for Moscow this weekend to come back into compliance with the treaty.
Without a breakthrough, there are signs the world may see a new nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia.
Thompson confirmed on Thursday that the withdrawal from the pact would allow the U.S. military to begin developing its own longer-range immediately missiles if it chose to do so, raising the prospect they could be deployed in Europe.