WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he plans to pull out of a major arms control treaty with Russia, claiming the Kremlin breached the accord on intermediate-range nuclear weapons.

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement,” Trump said Saturday after a campaign rally in Elko, Nev. “We’re going to terminate the agreement.”

The U.S. has been warning Russia it could resort to strong countermeasures unless Moscow complies with international commitments to arms reduction under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a pact struck in the 1980s.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers earlier this month discussed concerns that Russia was developing a medium-range ballistic missile. The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, has said Russia’s non-compliance would compel the U.S. to match its capabilities to protect the interests of the U.S. and European allies.

NATO has credited the INF treaty with playing a crucial role in ensuring security for 30 years by ending the proliferation of ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Trump’s comments on Saturday came as National Security Adviser John Bolton was headed to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In Moscow, he was expected to meet with the Russian defense and foreign ministers as a follow-up to Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July.

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Trump may meet with Putin next month in Paris during the commemoration marking the centenary of the end of World War I, or at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that begins Nov. 30, according to a U.S. official.

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(Bill Faries contributed to this report.)
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