The Russian military has released a satellite image that it says proves the U.S. was violating a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty two years before the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing from the agreement.
Dated Dec. 3, 2018, the satellite image purports to show three active missile production units and one unit that’s under construction in addition to test sites and storage facilities.
On Friday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. was pulling the plug on the 1987 INF treaty, accusing Moscow of violating the pact by deploying banned missiles, a charge that Russia strongly denied.
The following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would follow in the footsteps of the U.S. in abandoning the treaty.
The Russian Defence Ministry’s satellite image of Raytheon Corporation’s plant in Tucson was released hours later.
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According to Russia, the satellite image is among several pieces of evidence which “irrefutably prove that the U.S. administration decided to withdraw from the INF treaty a few years before it started making public, unfounded accusations against Russia of violating the treaty.”
Russia said the Tucson plant has expanded in size by 44 per cent over the past two years, while the number of employees there is set to rise by around 2,000 people, which it said was further indication of U.S. missile production activities.
Global News has reached out to the Raytheon Corporation for comment.
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The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent.
Such weapons were seen as particularly destabilizing as they only take a few minutes to reach their targets, leaving no time for decision-makers and raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.
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— With files from the Associated Press