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08:05 AM, June 19, 2019
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Chairman of the RussianLeonid Slutsky, State Duma's International Affairs Committee (image: TASS)

Russia is ready to return to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty provided the US follows the statuettes of the treaty, but Romania is now home to Washington’s Missile system, Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee said Tuesday.

“The missile systems placed in Romania by the US can be easily modified to launch surface-to-surface missiles of intermediate and smaller range," Slutsky told TASS.

The INF treaty bans the usage of missiles with short and intermediate ranges, ie between 500- 5,500 km (310-3,420 miles). The two countries, in 1962, were on the brink of a nuclear war when Moscow responded to a US missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba. To avoid such an event again, the INF pact was signed between the Soviet Union and the US on December 8, 1987. It took effect on June 1, 1988, just before the Cold War ended in 1991.

"We have always supported disarmament. There are no talks about an arms race. Russia has enough and more than enough means to repel any attack, which is why there are no grounds to expect an arms race," Slutsky added.

Slutsky also pointed out that the potential signing of a trilateral nuclear deal between the US, Russia and China. The 2011 accord, or the New START treaty, is the only US-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed strategic nuclear weapons. It will expire in February 2021 but can be extended for five years if both sides agree.

The US has accused Russia of violating the treaty but Russia has dismissed the allegations.

In February, Washington announced it will withdraw from the pact altogether in six months, unless Moscow ends its alleged violations.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Moscow was suspending its participation in the agreement. He issued orders to refrain from initiating negotiations with Washington on this issue, adding that it was up to the US side to advance towards a condition for an “equitable and meaningful” dialogue.

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