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US Withdraws from Arms Accord

President Bush has announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It's the first time in recent years the U.S. abandons an international arms accord.

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US President George W. Bush

U.S. President George W. Bush announced on Thursday that the United States will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This marks the first time in recent history that the U.S. abandons a major international arms accord.

The ABM treaty stands in the way of American plans to install a national missile defense system.

Bush said the September 11 terrorist attacks had made shown that the U.S. needed an effective defense. He said he could not allow an outdated treaty to stand in the way of effective protection for the American people.

Bush's announcement on Thursday set in motion a six-month period of notice for withdrawal from the 1972 treaty. The U.S. President said he had personally informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of his decision.

Different views

Bush's decision to declare the ABM treaty null and void ended months of haggling with Russia over the treaty. The U.S. see it merely as a relic of the Cold War.

For the Russians, the treaty is a cornerstone agreement on which other arms accords rest. Russia says the demise of the pact could unravel more than 30 other accords.

Russia warns this could undermine international security. In the eyes of the Kremlin, the move comes at a time when strategic stability is of vital importance due to the Afghan crisis.

No effect

U.S. President Bush said his decision would not affect his warm relationship with Putin. The two last met in the U.S. in November. President Bush is expected to go to Moscow next summer.

"President Putin and I have also agreed that my decision to withdraw from the treaty will not in any way undermine our new relationship or Russian security," Bush said.

Russian reactions

Russia's President Vladimir Putin made no mention of the Bush move during an address to church leaders on Thursday.

Leading Russian politicians, however, have condemned Washington's plans to opt out of the ABM treaty. The head of the pro-government Fatherland-All Russia faction in parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, branded Washington "a superpower that is trying to dictate its rules to the world".

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