President Barack Obama has formally notified Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will cite Russia for violating a historic nuclear test ban treaty, a senior administration official told NBC News on Monday amid ever-worsening U.S.-Russian relations. The citation in the State Department's annual report on arms control violations, first reported Monday by The New York Times, will accuse Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the then-Soviet Union, signed in 1987 to ban tests of medium-range ground-launched cruise missiles.
The specific allegation dates to no later than 2013, senior U.S. officials told NBC News, but as long ago as 2007, the chief of Russia's military General Staff was quoted as saying Russia was considering unilaterally dropping out of the agreement. "This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now," a senior administration told NBC News on Monday night. "The United States is committed to the viability of the INF Treaty. We encourage Russia to return to compliance with its obligations under the treaty and to eliminate any prohibited items in a verifiable manner." Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have been agitating for the White House to take a tougher stance against Russia's alleged violations for more than a year.
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— Andrea Mitchell and M. Alex Johnson