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12 Oct, 2007 11:36

Moscow considers INF treaty a relic

President Putin annouced that Russia may pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty if other countries don't join. The agreement, signed in 1987, was seen as a real high-point in relations between Moscow and Washington, but now it could become yet

Both the United States and the Soviet Union had thousands of warheads. In an attempt to reduce the threat of nuclear war, the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev proposed to eliminate middle range nuclear missiles in Europe.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, or the INF, was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev during the Glasnost era of the late 80s.

Under its terms, nuclear and conventional missiles with intermediate ranges of up to 5,500 kilometres were subject to liquidation.

By 1991, more than 2,500 weapons were destroyed. More than half of these were eliminated by Russia and the former Soviet republics.

The treaty also allowed the two sides to inspect each other's military sites.

But by 2001 inspections had ended. 

Russia says the treaty is too narrow and no longer relevant. Speaking in August of this year, Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov said the fact that the INF involves only the United States and Russia, means other countries can build up arsenals with impunity.

“We see how our Eastern and Southern neighbours are equipped with short and middle-range missiles. The Soviet-American agreement limiting these kinds of weapons is apparently no longer effective under the new conditions. Because a lot of new countries have emerged, particularly along our borders, who have got hold of these kinds of weapons. Meanwhile Russia, like the United States, doesn't have the right to use this weaponry,” said Sergey Ivanov. 

Moscow says the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty is a relic of the cold war and needs to be expanded.