Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday the U.S. will withdraw from a milestone Cold War-era nuclear treaty unless Russia returns to compliance.
“We either bury our head in the sand or we take common sense action,” Pompeo told reporters in Brussels after meeting with NATO foreign ministers.
Pompeo told the ministers the U.S. will begin the six-month process of leaving the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 60 days over alleged violations by Russia.
“The United States and our NATO allies stand vigilant that Russia’s lawless conduct will not be tolerated and the realm of arms control or anywhere else,” Pompeo said.
Russia has denied that it is violating a landmark nuclear pact.
Pompeo said Russia has developed “multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles,” a reference to the land-based, intermediate-range cruise missile.
He said the missile’s “range makes it a direct menace to Europe.”
The U.S. shared evidence with allies that the missile could enable Russia to carry out a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.
NATO allies said they concluded that Russia violated the treaty and called on Moscow “to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance.”
“It’s up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty,” the ministers said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had previously threatened to withdraw from the treaty, which bans all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
Pompeo said the Trump administration “would welcome a Russian change of heart” but added he has no indication that Moscow is likely to return to compliance.