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Bolton Heads to Russia as Trump Says US to Leave Nuclear Arms Treaty

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President Trump announced Saturday that he would be pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One to leave Nevada following a campaign rally, according to CNN.

“And I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement,” he added.

“But Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out,” Trump said of the agreement, which was signed in December 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Trump administration has said repeatedly that Russia has violated the treaty.

Administration officials believe the treaty has put the US at a disadvantage because China does not face any constraints on developing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in the Pacific and does not allow the US to develop new weapons.

In March, the State Department accused Russia of developing destabilizing nuclear weapons in violation of its treaty obligations, after Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new array of nuclear weapons.

Also on Saturday,  National Security Advisor John Bolton met in Moscow with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, amid reports that Washington will tell Russia it plans to quit a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.

The visit comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump this year.

Bolton, who is also meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, announced the visit to Moscow in a tweet, saying he would “continue discussions that began in Helsinki,” referring to a summit held in July.

The New York Times said the Trump administration plans to inform Russian leaders in the coming days that it is preparing to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF.

The newspaper said the US accuses Russia of violating the deal, signed in 1987 by president Ronald Reagan, by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to intimidate former Soviet satellite states that are now close to the West.

US-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election, as well as tension over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country’s civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.

However, Washington is looking for support from Moscow in finding resolutions to the Syria war and putting pressure on both Iran and North Korea

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