U.S.: Russia Has Violated Nuclear Missile Treaty

The U.S has formally accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, the New York Times reports. President Obama informed Vladimir Putin of Russia's violation of the treaty by letter Monday; the violation will also be documented in a State Department report to be released Tuesday.

From the Times:

At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans medium-range missiles, which are defined as ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.

Suspected INF violations, however, date back to 2008, although the Associated Press reports that Russia has "looked into the allegations and consider the matter closed."

The Times, citing administration officials, reports that the cruise missile in question has not been deployed and that there are no current plans for retribution:

Mr. Obama has determined that the United States will not retaliate against the Russians by violating the treaty and deploying its own prohibited medium-range system, officials said. So the responses might include deploying sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, which would be an allowable under the accord.

"This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now," an Obama administration official said in a statement. "We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner."

[Image via AP]