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Immediate Release

Statement From Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper on the INF Treaty

Russia has failed to comply with its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and as such, the United States has withdrawn from the INF Treaty effective today, Aug. 2, 2019. This withdrawal is a direct result of Russia’s sustained and repeated violations of the Treaty over many years and multiple presidential administrations.

The facts are clear. The Russian Federation is producing and fielding an offensive capability that was prohibited by the INF Treaty. Russia’s material breach erodes the foundation of effective arms control and the security of the United States and our allies and partners. As stated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today, NATO’s position is united and clear: Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty. The United States is not.

In light of Russia’s noncompliance, the Department of Defense commenced Treaty-compliant research and development activities beginning in 2017. The department’s initial research and development efforts focused on mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems. Because the United States scrupulously complied with its obligations to the INF Treaty, these programs are in the early stages. Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions and as part of the Joint Force’s broader portfolio of conventional strike options.

The United States will not remain a party to a treaty while Russia is in deliberate violation. The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies as we move forward in implementing the National Defense Strategy, protecting our national defense and building partner capacity.