U.S. suspends nuclear treaty with Russia

(NBC NEWS) – President Donald Trump on Friday said the U.S. is suspending its involvement in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and would start the process of withdrawing entirely in six months.

“For far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad,” Trump said in a statement.

The U.S. will “suspend” INF Treaty obligations starting Saturday and begin withdrawing from the treaty over the course of six months “unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment,” the statement said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced Friday that the treaty “will terminate” if Russia continues to violate it.

The INF Treaty prevents the U.S. and Russia from possessing any land-based cruise missiles that can strike within a range of 310 to 3,410 miles.

The deal signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was primarily designed to keep ground-based nuclear weapons out of Europe.