Preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Russia and the United States may prevent a new arms race, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said here Friday.
"I cannot imagine that anyone in Europe would be interested in starting a new spiral of build-up of weapons, medium-range nuclear missiles," Maas said at a press conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
"The only way to prevent this is to preserve the INF Treaty," he said, adding that both Russia and the United States should refrain from deploying medium-range missiles banned by the arms control treaty.
Moscow and Washington have been accusing each other of violating the historic INF Treaty signed between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987.
The United States accuses Russia of refusing to destroy the 9M729 missile system, which it claims violates the pact. Russia insists that the missile has a range lower than the 500-5,500 km stipulated by the deal.
According to Maas, loyalty to the INF Treaty can only be restored through the verified elimination of the 9M729 missiles.
Maas welcomed the news that both Russia and the United States will be ready to continue the dialogue on the INF Treaty.
However, Lavrov was rather skeptical about the fate of the deal.
"When President Trump announced that they will abandon the treaty, our U.S. colleagues told us during official contacts on different issues of disarmament and arms control that this is the final decision," he said at the briefing.
The announcement that the United States is leaving the INF Treaty is not an invitation to dialogue, Lavrov told reporters.