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CBRN Assessment

No timeline set for US withdrawal from INF Treaty

16 November 2018

US leaders are in talks with major allies and partner nations about how to proceed if the US withdraws from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), according to the US State Department’s Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson. However, a final decision about if a withdrawal will happen and, if so, when the US will send the official notification has not been made.

The Novator 9M729 is presumed to be the missile launched by the cruise missile version of the Iskander system, although this has not been confirmed by US or Russian officials. (KBM)The Novator 9M729 is presumed to be the missile launched by the cruise missile version of the Iskander system, although this has not been confirmed by US or Russian officials. (KBM)

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has announced that the INF would be discussed by Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

Thompson laid out the case for withdrawing from the INF treaty and cited ways the country has been working to rally support from allies and partner countries.

“Everyone involved with this is all hands on deck and getting information so that the president has everything that he needs to make the next decision,” Thompson told reporters during a 15 November teleconference. “The [State Department] secretary has been very active in that as well.… Interagency piece[s] haven’t made a decision on timing, but know that everyone’s working closely and collaboratively with partners to ensure that the president has the full information when he reaches that decision.”

Under the INF treaty, ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km are banned. The Trump administration has said Russia is not complying with the INF Treaty by developing and fielding a ground-launched cruise missile identified as the Novator 9M729 (SSC-8 ‘Screwdriver’).

“They continue to produce the SSC-8, they continue to field it, [and] they continue to exercise it,” Thompson said. “This isn’t about the US, this isn’t about NATO, this is about Russia’s violation of the treaty.”

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