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Time Running Out for Salvaging INF Treaty

FILE - Foreign military attaches and journalists attend a briefing by the Russian Defense Ministry as a land-based cruise missile, right, is displayed in Kubinka outside Moscow, Russia, Jan. 23, 2019. The Russian military said the new weapon does not violate the INF Treaty.

A senior U.S. official warns that prospects for salvaging the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are dimming as Russia continues to violate the accord.

"We are doing nothing but responding to an ongoing and persisting pattern of Russian violations of the treaty," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation Christopher Ford. "Things to which the United States has been drawing attention and trying to engage with Russia for many years now across two administrations of different political flavors and of something in the order of 30 different diplomatic engagements with our counterparts in Moscow."

Washington says it will withdraw from the INF Treaty by August if Moscow does not fulfill its obligations.

The Cold War-era pact, which bans the development and deployment of ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, has been a pillar of European security for more than 30 years. Europe has called on the U.S. and Russia to remain constructively engaged in trying to preserve it.

Ford says all efforts to reverse Russia's violations have proved futile. However, Russia says it strictly observes the treaty's provisions and does not allow violations.

Ford finds one bright spot in the midst of the bilateral nuclear disputes: He says both the U.S. and Russia are complying with the essential limits of the START, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. This accord limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads.