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Trump to listen to his cabinet’s advice before deciding on INF Treaty — Defense secretary

WASHINGTON, October 31. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump will listen to the advice of his administration’s members before making the final decision on whether to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said.

“I was in Prague the day before yesterday and I met with our two NATO nations’ ministers there, there were two other nations when I was in Manama last Saturday. And we’re doing everything we can to try to find any option [of solving the INF Treaty issue],” Mattis said in a speech at the Washington-based US Institute of Peace on Tuesday, adding that Washington would “continue to collaborate very, very closely with our allies and consult with them, and that’s both through the ministers of defense and ministers of foreign affairs.”

He also expressed hope that the INF Treaty issue would be central during the upcoming meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

“I don’t want to go into too much details, but there are options – both symmetrical and asymmetrical – that are available, but I am not committed to anything right now. That’s a grave decision, that the President will take council from all of us and it will be up to President Trump, and his views on nuclear weapons (and I think it is pretty well known – he hates them). And we will be working this issue with him,” the US official added.

Situation around INF Treaty

The INF, or The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, Treaty was signed between the former Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 and entered into force on June 1, 1988. In 1992, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the treaty was multilateralized with the former Soviet republics – Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine – as successors. The INF Treaty covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers).

The US accused Russia of violating the treaty for the first time in July 2014. Since then, Washington has been repeating its claims on many occasions, while Moscow has been rejecting them and advancing counter-claims concerning the implementation of the treaty by the US side.

US President Donald Trump said on October 20 that Washington would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia was violating the terms of the agreement. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described this decision as a dangerous step. Washington’s decision came under criticism from Berlin and Beijing. However London expressed support to the US’ stance and NATO placed responsibility for Trump’s decision on Russia which, it claims, may violate the treaty.

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