U.S. To Pull Out Of Russia Nuclear Arms Treaty: Trump

The US will unilaterally pull out of a more-than-30-year-old treaty with Russia that bans a wide array of nuclear weapons, US President Donald Trump says.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was signed by US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington.

It banned nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 500 to 5500 kilometres, as well as their launchers.

"We're going to terminate the treaty and we're going to pull out," Trump told reporters in Nevada on Saturday, where he was campaigning for a Republican Senate candidate.

National Security Adviser John Bolton meanwhile set off for Moscow, where he is expected to discuss the withdrawal, which has already drawn criticism from Russia.

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told the state news agency TASS that the US had wanted to take the step "for many years" and had been "intentionally and gradually eroding the contractual base".

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump (L) are seen during their meeting in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The source said the decision was "in line" with the US policy of "withdrawing from international legal agreements that impose equal obligations on all partners" and was based on a US "dream about a unipolar world".

Trump said Russia had been violating the agreement.

"They've been violating it for many years. And I don't know why president Obama didn't negotiate or pull out. And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons, and we're not allowed to," he said.

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The US would begin building such weapons again if Russia and China did not come to a fresh agreement on them, he added.

The US and Russia have long accused one another of violating the terms of the treaty.

Washington bases its accusation on Russia's development of the Novator 9M729 cruise missile, NATO designation SSC-8, which has a range of 2600km.

Earlier this month, NATO called on Moscow to address concerns about the missile, while US ambassador to NATO, Kay Hutchison, appeared to warn that the US would consider launching military action to destroy the missile.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that a NATO missile shield in Romania could launch nuclear missiles at any time.

Trump's announcement could herald fresh tensions between the former Cold War rivals.

While the US president has repeatedly praised Putin, his administration has taken a tough line against the Kremlin and repeatedly imposed sanctions on it.

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