US approves funds to develop INF-banned missiles before treaty withdrawal

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The United States had approved funds to develop medium- and shorter-range missiles even before it decided to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Sunday.

Eight months before the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal, budgetary funds had been allocated for the development of missiles banned by the INF Treaty, Sputnik news agency quoted Shoigu as saying.

Moscow remains open to dialogue on this issue with Washington and will not reciprocate in kind until the United States deploys INF-banned missiles in Europe and Asia, Shoigu said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement earlier this month that Russia's existing missiles are already able to deal with the threats to its national security originating from the termination of the INF Treaty.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Feb. 1 that the United States would suspend compliance with the landmark bilateral nuclear arms control pact with Russia and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged violation of the pact.

The United States has formally withdrawn from the INF treaty with Russia, Pompeo said on Aug. 2 in a statement.

On the same day, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the United States will fully develop ground-launched conventional missiles after withdrawing from the treaty.

The United States had already begun research and development activities for the ground-launched missiles in 2017, Esper said in a statement.

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