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US sets deadline for Russia, warns it may quit nuclear pact

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U.S. signals it will suspend nuclear treaty with Russia after NATO finding

The Russian president's remarks came one day after the USA secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Moscow was in "material breach" of the cold war-era treaty and issued a 60-day ultimatum for Russia to correct the alleged violations. The leaders agreed to destroy all cruise or ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles.

NATO allies say they have concluded that Russian Federation is in violation of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear treaty, paving the way for the United States to leave the pact unless Moscow complies with it.

US President Donald Trump wants out of the 1987 INF treaty which he believes has been regularly broken by the Kremlin and also rendered irrelevant by China's nuclear weapons programme.

Mike Pompeo said Washington has repeatedly warned Russian Federation about the consequences of non-compliance with the I-N-F since 20-13.

"The United States declares today it has found Russian Federation in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russian Federation returns to full and verifiable compliance", Pompeo said at a NATO meeting in Belgium.

"These violations of the INF treaty can not be viewed in isolation from the larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage", he added.

"Russia must return to full and verifiable compliance; Russia's failure to do so will result in the demise of the INF Treaty", Pompeo told reporters. He stressed that the U-S has remained committed to the treaty despite what he called flagrant violations by Moscow.

"The real situation is that since 2000 Russian Federation has been calling on Washington to stop the practice of using target-missiles, simulating ballistic missiles of intermediate and shorter range when testing the anti-ballistic missile system, what is prohibited by the treaty".

The NATO ministers called on Russian Federation to "return urgently to full and verifiable compliance", saying it is now "up to Russian Federation to preserve the INF treaty".

"During this 60 days, we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we'll see what happens during this 60-day period", Pompeo told journalists in Brussels. "We hope that they'll change course, but there's been absolutely no indication that they'll do so".

"The Russian side has repeatedly declared that this is, to say the least, speculation", Zakharova said of the USA allegation.

The U.S. has shared intelligence evidence with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that it says shows that Russia's new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice.

Putin said on Wednesday that the US decision to ditch the INF means that USA authorities have decided that the U.S.

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