U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday he would pull out of a Cold-War era treaty with Russia that limited the number of missiles in each country.
Trump said Moscow had violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and he would halt the agreement, according to USAToday.
"We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out," Trump said when leaving a rally in Nevada Saturday afternoon. He said the U.S. would pull out "and then we are going to develop the weapons” unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, though China isn't currently a party of the agreement.
"Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” the president said. "And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to."
Trump made the revelation as his National Security Adviser John Bolton was headed to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. His first stop is scheduled in Moscow, where he’ll meet with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
For most of the Cold War, U.S.-Russian summits were dominated by the issue of nuclear weapons, with Presidents Nixon, Carter and Reagan reaching a series of incremental agreements to limit the number, size and location of each side’s nuclear arsenal.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was one of those agreements and is set to expire in the next two years. The 1987 pact helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East.
It prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. It also covers all land-based missiles, including those carrying nuclear warheads.
"The INF Treaty likely has entered its final days. That’s unfortunate," said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
For years, the U.S. has accused Russia of violating it and rapidly expanding and advancing its weapons stockpile. Meanwhile, Trump says the U.S. is constrained because of the agreement, preventing the nation from catching up.
The U.S. Defense Department in February described some of Russia's advancements in a report, which also called for the U.S. to develop two new additional nuclear weapons to keep other world powers, including China, at bay.
One of the weapons the Defense Department said Russia was creating was an intercontinental nuclear-armed torpedo that can travel thousands of miles and strike U.S. coastal cities with minimal warning.
Called the "Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System," the Russian torpedo is reported to be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatons. The weapon could trigger a tsunami wave of radioactive water that would blanket a coastal city. Politicians have called the torpedo a "doomsday" weapon.