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US: Russia violated 1987 nuclear missile treaty

By Jim Kuhnhenn

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an escalation of tensions, the Obama administration accused Russia on Monday of conducting tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear missile treaty, calling the breach "a very serious matter" and going public with allegations that have simmered for some time.

The treaty confrontation comes at a highly strained time between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Putin's grant of asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

U.S. Says Russia Broke Nuclear Arms Treaty, Ups Sanctions

An administration official said Obama notified Putin of the U.S. determination in a letter Monday. The finding will be included in a State Department annual report on compliance with arms control treaties that will be released Tuesday.

The U.S. says Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Russian officials say they have looked into the allegations and consider the matter closed.

The Obama administration has expressed its concern over possible violations before, but this is the first time that the administration has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty. It comes in the wake of the downed Malaysian airliner in Ukraine and as the U.S. and the European Union seek to ramp up sanctions against Russia, offering the administration a convenient time to release the report which had been due to come out in April.

Two officials said the U.S. is prepared to hold high-level discussions on the issue immediately and want assurances that Russia will comply with the treaty requirements going forward. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive issue publicly by name ahead of Tuesday's report.

The New York Times first reported the U.S. move Monday evening.

In raising the issue now, the U.S. appears to be placing increased pressure on Russia and trying to further isolate it from the international community. The European Union and the United States plan to announce new sanctions against Russia this week in the face of U.S. evidence that Russia has continued to assist separatist forces in Ukraine.

The formal finding comes in the wake of congressional pressure on the White House to confront Russia over the allegations of cheating on the treaty. The treaty banned all U.S. and Russian land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 miles and 3,400 miles.

The officials said the Obama administration has informed Congress and U.S. allies of its decision to seek Russian compliance.

Indeed, Obama, who has made nuclear disarmament a key foreign policy aim, has little interest in having Russia pull out of the treaty altogether.

Obama won Senate ratification of a New START treaty, which took effect in February 2011 and requires the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of their strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 by February 2018.

Obama last year announced that he wants to cut the number of U.S. nuclear arms by another third and that he would "seek negotiated cuts" with Russia, a goal now complicated by the accusation of a missile treaty violation.


Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

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MIKE July 28 2014 at 9:05 PM

Obumber violates the U.S. every day.

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15 replies
heymikiell July 28 2014 at 9:17 PM

We have a feckless leader...but a good fund raiser and liar. Be very ashamed Obama voters.

Flag Reply +96 rate up
10 replies
beautyfoundation July 28 2014 at 9:14 PM

The O administration is allowing millions of illegal pirates to invade your border, yet worries about putin?

Flag Reply +73 rate up
10 replies
furchaserdave July 28 2014 at 9:07 PM

our POS that is occupying OUR white house will say anything won't he? I served in our Army, I have seen combat. I know what we do and have done, yet this administration thinks they can tell anyone anything? we have done a lot worse things than Russia has. and considering WE violently overthrew a democratically elected government because we didn't like what happened and wanted biden's son in a position to rape Ukraine's resources, we are calling the citizens of that nation terrorists or rebels because they are pissed we took over their country. we keep blaming Russia for arming people as we have PMCs and soldiers, along with weapons flowing into the country. This administration has a lot of nerve calling Russia the aggressors. I am ashamed of this government..

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37 replies
jdunbar60 July 28 2014 at 9:07 PM

Nobama's not gonna be happy until he starts world war III. But then that was why his handlers placed him where he is in the first place.

Flag Reply +70 rate up
8 replies
Angela9 July 28 2014 at 9:12 PM

Well, now that obama told Putin the he would have more flexibility after he was elected, so , he went along with Putin and shut down most of our Nukes. he has known for months that Putin has been doing this and just now writing Putin? Why? He is just trying to get his base to rally--All politics people. Putin is laughing!!

Flag Reply +60 rate up
11 replies
cchandlr July 28 2014 at 8:58 PM

What will Obozo do, WAAAAH at him?

Flag Reply +56 rate up
8 replies
Captain Jack July 28 2014 at 8:56 PM

yea a letter that will help

Flag Reply +37 rate up
3 replies
dhsdome July 29 2014 at 8:01 AM

America couldn't find a weaker leader if it tried.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
aljoramaggio July 29 2014 at 12:22 AM

Rome (the USA) is burning, we have messed up treaties and alliances all over the globe, and Nero is fiddling, as Syria falls apart, Russia gathers power, Iran is building nukes,North Korea rattles its' sabers, and HAMAS and Israel are in a protracted battle.
The idiot in charge has attended nearly 400 fundraisers since taking office, has attended 322 "events" and had played 100 rounds of golf.
Let us compare this to GW Bush (about 200 total over 8 years, Clinton at 167 over 8 years, and Reagan 80 over 8 years).
Obama is only in year 5.
God help us.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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