GENEVA : The United States recently hinted that it might withdraw from a landmark Cold War nuclear arms reduction treaty if Russia does not stop ''violating'' the accord.

Washington has complained for nearly two years that ground-launched missile system deployed by  Russia breaches the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty [INF].

''This situation is untenable, and we have to take measures to deal with with this continued violation of this very important treaty,'' US ambassador on disarmament Robert Wood told reporters in Geneva.

He said pushing Russia to ''come back into compliance'' with the  INF would be a top US priority at  disarmament meetings at the United Nations in New York next week.

But he added : ''I just don't know how much longer we can continue to live up to our obligations under this treaty with Russia violating this treaty so blatantly and openly.''

Russia has repeatedly insisted its 9M729 missile system does not breach the treaty, but Wood said Moscow has long denied the weapons even existed.

''The Russians continue to obfuscate, deny, because this is what they do best,'' he said.

His comments came after the US ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said on Tuesday that Washington was looking to ''take out the missiles that are in development by Russia.''

She later clarified that she was not suggesting the United States would launch pre-emptive strikes on Russia, but underlining the need for Western allies to find ways to counter any escalation. [AFP]


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