NATO "to avoid arms race" after U.S.-Russia nuclear pact ends: BBC
NATO will aim to avoid a new arms race with Russia, its secretary general says, after the U.S. formally withdrew from a key nuclear treaty with Moscow.
Both Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have blamed Russia for the Cold War treaty's collapse, BBC reported.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force banned missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles).
The INF treaty was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 but its collapse more than 30 years later has raised fears of a new arms race.
Last year the Americans said they had evidence that the new Russian cruise missiles fall within the range banned by the treaty.
Accusations about the 9M729 missiles - known to Nato as SSC-8 - were then put to Washington's NATO allies, which all backed the U.S. claim.
In February, President Donald Trump set the 2 August deadline for the U.S. to withdraw from the pact if Russia didn't come into compliance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended his country's own obligations to the treaty shortly afterwards.
"Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.
"With the full support of our NATO allies, the United States has determined Russia to be in material breach of the treaty, and has subsequently suspended our obligations under the treaty," he added.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the transatlantic alliance would "respond in a measured and responsible way to the significant risks posed by the Russian 9M729 missile to allied security".
But, he added, NATO "does not want a new arms race" and confirmed there were no plans for the alliance to deploy land-based nuclear missiles of its own in Europe.
Last month, he told the BBC that the Russian missiles were nuclear-capable, mobile, very hard to detect and could reach European cities within minutes.
"This is serious," he added. "The INF treaty has been a cornerstone in arms control for decades, and now we see the demise of the treaty."