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US nuclear treaty pullout would be very dangerous step, says Moscow

Germany called Donald Trump’s move ‘regrettable’.

US President Donald Trump has said his intention to scrap a landmark arms control agreement with Russia follows years of violations by Moscow in developing prohibited weapons.

The Kremlin said the pullout “would be a very dangerous step”.

Britain said it stood “absolutely resolute” with the US, while Germany called Mr Trump’s move “regrettable”.

Heiko Maas said in a statement that the three-decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is “an important pillar of our European security architecture” and Mr Trump’s announcement “raises difficult questions for us and Europe”.

The 1987 pact prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.

Mr Maas said Germany has repeatedly urged Moscow to “clear up the serious allegations of breaching the INF treaty, which Russia has so far not done”.

He said Germany is urging Washington to “consider the possible consequences” of its decision, including for a US-Russian nuclear disarmament treaty beyond 2021.

“Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” Mr Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada.

If Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable Donald Trump

“And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

The agreement has constrained the US from developing new weapons, but America will begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons, Mr Trump said.

China is not a party to the pact.

“We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Trump is sending his national security adviser, John Bolton, to Moscow for meetings with Russian leaders, including foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and was expected to relay the news about the president’s decision.

“This would be a very dangerous step,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as telling state news agency Tass.

He said a US withdrawal “will cause the most serious condemnation from all members of the international community who are committed to security and stability”.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said his country stands “absolutely resolute” with the United States on the treaty dispute.

He blamed Russia for endangering the arms control pact and he called on the Kremlin to “get its house in order”.

US-Russia relations are already strained as a result of the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and upcoming US midterm elections.

Mr Trump did not provide details about violations.

But in 2017, White House national security officials said Russia had deployed a cruise missile in violation of the treaty.

Earlier, the Obama administration accused the Russians of violating the pact by developing and testing a prohibited cruise missile.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it has violated the treaty and has accused the United States of not being in compliance.

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