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    Belgian Foreign Minister regrets demise of INF Treaty

    © Belga

    Belgium’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister, Didier Reynders, said on Friday that he regretted the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

    Reynders also called on the United States and Russia to take steps to reduce their nuclear arsenals for all types of weapons systems, and to extend the New START treaty beyond 2021.

    His call came after Russia announced the end of the INF on Friday morning, following Washington’s announcement on Thursday that it was pulling out of the treaty.

    “Unfortunately, Russia did not heed repeated international to start to respect its treaty obligations again,” Reynders said. “This led to the dissolution of the treaty.”

    “As a NATO member, control of the number of nuclear weapons and disarmament are of great importance to Belgium as an essential part of international security,” the Belgian minister said. “No one would benefit from a new arms race.”

    Reynders stressed that it was important for Washington and Moscow to engage in a “constructive dialogue” and come to an agreement on stabilisation measures. He also said the United States and Russia needed to “enter into active dialogue” on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in 2021.

    Washington accuses Moscow of violating the treaty for years, thus paving the way for a new arms race against Russia, but also against China.

    The United States had launched on 1 February the six-month process of withdrawing from the bilateral agreement signed during the Cold War

    Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified the suspension of Russia’s participation on 3 July and in the absence of any changes, the two countries’ withdrawal means the end of the INF Treaty.

    By abolishing the use of all missiles whose range was between 500 and 5,500 km, the treaty had paved the way for the elimination of about 2,700 missiles: Soviet SS-20s, and U.S. Pershing II and Cruise missiles, some of them deployed in Belgium.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times