The United States is seeking to block a move by Russia to schedule a United Nations General Assembly vote on preserving a 1987 nuclear arms treaty that U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to abandon this week.
Russian diplomats said they offered the assembly's disarmament committee a draft resolution calling for preservation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on October 25, but the United States moved to block the proposal, arguing that Russia had missed an October 18 deadline for submitting such resolutions.
A spokesman for the Russian Mission at the UN, Fedor Strzhizhovskiy, said the United States then called for a vote on whether the resolution could be submitted late and it lost that vote, so the committee chair is now seeking a consensus on how to proceed.
"The international community has an obligation to react to this apocalyptic situation," a Russian diplomat said, referring to Trump's decision to walk away from the treaty, which he claims that Russia has violated since at least 2014.
The Russian proposal "aims to reinforce the viability of the treaty," the diplomat said, calling the INF treaty a "cornerstone" of world peace and stability.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier this week that he expects a vote at the UN would show broad global support for the arms treaty, even among U.S. allies.
Russia's draft resolution calls on Moscow and Washington to preserve the treaty and restart dialogue to address each nations' concerns about alleged violations.
Russia has claimed that aspects of the U.S. missile-defense system in Europe also violate the treaty.
"Preserving this agreement is the sine qua non condition to continuing to advance the cause of reducing nuclear weapons," the Russian diplomat said, and he called on all UN member states to approve the resolution.
Trump announced on October 20 that he would pull out of the INF treaty, which prohibits nuclear missiles with a range of 500 to 5,000 kilometers, citing not only alleged violations by Russia but concern that China has been developing its nuclear missile capabilities and is not covered by the treaty.
The treaty was signed in 1987 by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev warned this week that abandoning the agreement would be a "mistake."
Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 24 warned of an "extremely dangerous" situation where the two nuclear powers would return to a nuclear "arms race" as a result of Trump's decision to abandon the nuclear pact.