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Czech PM calls US threat to drop nuclear treaty 'bad news'


AFP Prague
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Sunday expressed surprise at a US threat to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear treaty with Russia, calling the development "bad news".
"For us it's a completely new matter and it's definitely a bad news if that is the case," Babis told reporters at a joint news conference with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in Prague on Sunday.
An ex-communist state, the Czech Republic became a US NATO ally when it joined the Western defence alliance in 1999.
"We are getting back somehow into Cold War times," Babis added, echoing concerns expressed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that the move could lead to a new arms race.
President Donald Trump said Monday the United States was ready to build up its nuclear arsenal after announcing it was abandoning a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, as Russia warned the withdrawal could cripple global security.
Trump sparked concern globally last weekend by saying he wanted to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed former US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
Explaining his decision, Trump told reporters in Washington that Russia had "not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself." "Until people come to their senses, we will build it up," he said, referring to America's nuclear stockpile. "This should have been done years ago." Russia has warned that abandoning the agreement would be a major blow to global security.
Signed in 1987, the INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
Trump's announcement has raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the United States and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to "think twice.

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First Published: Oct 28 2018 | 11:00 PM IST

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