‘The United States is still trying to figure out who this guy is’: Russia says US ‘wanted to destroy Russia’
By SETH BERMANA, Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) Russia said Friday it’s still trying “to figure out” who the United States intended to destroy, hours after the Trump administration accused Moscow of trying to derail a nuclear deal between Washington and Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said he was “very worried” about a potential breach of a landmark deal to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.
The White House also said that the Obama administration had made “serious mistakes” in not fully sharing information about the incident.
The United States and Russia have not reached a nuclear agreement on their respective side of the Atlantic, but Russia and the United State signed a deal last year to curtail the spread and use of nuclear arms in response to the Fukushima disaster.
The accord was designed to stop the spread, and to help ease pressure on nuclear-armed North Korea and Iran.
Russia is the only country that can legally possess nuclear weapons, and its President Vladimir Zhirinovsky has been urging the United Kingdom to abandon plans to build nuclear reactors in the U.K. and the Netherlands.
The two countries agreed to the deal in the early years of the Obama presidency, but a White House statement said the agreement was violated when it was not properly vetted by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is charged with ensuring the safety of the U,S.
and Russia’s nuclear weapons programs.
“Russia’s position is that it did not participate in any decision-making regarding the development of nuclear weapon facilities, and it would not be in a position to participate in future decisions about such matters,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, said in a statement.
He said the nuclear deal had not been implemented, but that the United Nations was “ready to verify” the agreement.
The agreement also was not signed until after Trump took office, a time when he was already under scrutiny over Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Trump administration has accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account and leaking it to WikiLeaks.
Peskov said Trump has “no idea” about the leak of information.
“The American president is a real man,” Peskov told reporters.
“He does not know about this leak.”
Peskov did not specify what Trump might have learned about the report.
The Kremlin, which denies interfering in the election, has been under pressure to stop spreading misinformation about Trump and other Russian leaders.
In an early morning tweet Friday, Trump called the leak “nothing short of treason” and called on the U!
to “stop it.”
Pesov said Trump’s tweet is part of the “strategy of deception.”
Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying “we reject the Trump Administration’s slander against the Russian Federation and its people.”
In a separate statement, Peskov reiterated Moscow’s commitment to the nuclear accord.
Russia and Washington signed the agreement after Obama administration officials said they were concerned about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Trump has called North Korea a “bad deal” that “could easily collapse.”
The U.S. has imposed sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and has called on it to halt all missile launches.
But Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia, which he has called a “very strong partner.”