US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has elaborated on an earlier announcement by President Donald Trump on leaving nuclear arms treaty with Russia and dismissed his country walking away from the deal.
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“Eventually we have to look reality in the eye, that is not to mean that we are walking away from arms control. But arms control must be more than words on a paper, it must be actions,” said Mattis on Saturday while attending a regional security summit in Bahrain. “We are in close collaboration with our European allies... and we will continue to collaborate very closely with the treaty and its implications for European security.”
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which was signed towards the end of Cold War in 1987 by then President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was seen as a milestone in ending the Cold War arms race between the two superpowers after effectively banning short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles held by both countries in Europe.
The deal subsequently lead to the elimination of nearly 2,700 short and medium-range missiles.
US President Donald Trump, however, announced on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the treaty on the basis of alleged Russian violation of the deal.
Russia, on the other hand, believes the US has violated the treaty, arguing that missile defense systems stationed in Romania, also planned for deployment in Poland this year, could launch Tomahawk medium-range missiles apart from interceptor missiles.
Experts have warned that leaving the agreement could provoke a dangerous arms race akin to the one that unfolded during the height of the Cold War, increasing the risk of a nuclear conflict.