National Security & Defense

Pompeo: Arms-Treaty-Withdrawal Threat ‘Sets Down the Marker’ for Russia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks in Washington, D.C., November 28, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. threat to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty sent a clear message that Russia must rectify its alleged violations of the treaty.

“Look, what I was intending to do there was articulate President Trump’s efforts around the world to continue the tradition of American leadership, to keep the world prosperous and the people around the world secure,” Pompeo said during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

“What Russia understands is action,” the secretary explained, and his warning “sets down the marker.”

Last week, in a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Pompeo announced that the U.S. would pull out of the agreement if Russian president Vladimir Putin didn’t correct alleged violations of the INF treaty, a 1987 arms-control deal signed by Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in the next 60 days.

The agreement prohibits countries from possessing ground-launched short-range (310–620 miles) and intermediate-range (620–3,420 miles) nuclear and non-nuclear missiles. New missiles Russia has been testing appear to be prohibited under the treaty, and would make it uncomplicated for Russia to launch a nuclear attack on NATO countries.

“They understand actual responses,” Pompeo said of the Russians Monday. “We’ve provided defensive weapons systems to the Ukrainians. We have sanctioned senior officials inside of Russia. The list of our efforts to . . . deter Vladimir Putin is long. There still obviously remains a great deal of work to do.”

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