Discussion: (0 comments)
There are no comments available.
A public policy blog from AEI
More options: Share,
with Stephen Rademaker, former assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation
Why has the US pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?
Russia has been cheating on this treaty for many years; after much hesitation, the Obama administration finally called Moscow on it, but that wasn’t sufficient to bring them back into compliance. Ultimately, Russia had to be held accountable for its continuing violations.
What were its violations?
The treaty prohibits the testing or possession of missiles with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers. Initially, Russia tested a cruise missile with that range, and then they deployed the missile. The US overlooked the testing, but deployment isn’t something that can be overlooked. The Obama administration raised this directly with Moscow in 2013, to no avail. (Editor’s note: The State Department reported Russia in non-compliance With INF in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.)
What was the purpose of this treaty?
It abolished a class of missiles that both the Soviet Union and the United States were deploying in Europe. Given that these were nuclear armed missiles targeting our allies in Europe and our forces in Europe, but not the United States, abolishing them took away that threat and stabilized the region at the time.
Why was Russia willing to violate this treaty?
For a long time, Russia has been unhappy being bound by this treaty, and is surrounded by countries like China, North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan that are all deploying missiles of this range, but Russia could not. The Russians have been looking to get out of the treaty for some time; they raised it with me in 2004.
Sounds like Russia might have some legitimate concerns?
Russia did have legitimate concerns. Ironically, of course, a lot of these threats come from the proliferation of Russian missile technology… But if they chose to act on those legitimate concerns, they should have acted lawfully and given notice terminating the treaty. Instead, Moscow just cheated, because of a fundamental indifference bordering on hostility to the treaty.
Where does the United States come in on this?
Under the Obama administration, there was reluctance to speak out on this because the administration’s priority was more arms control treaties, not fewer. But ultimately, the facts were too obvious to ignore.
So what does the Trump administration do now?
Once the United States ceases to be obligated by the treaty, which happens in six months, the US will move in the direction of deploying missiles we were previously barred from deploying. The Trump administration has made clear those missiles will be conventionally and not nuclear armed. Where they will be deployed hasn’t yet been determined. The question will arise in both Europe (with regard to the threat from Russia) and Asia (with regard to the threat from China).
Does withdrawing launch a new arms race?
I don’t believe it will launch a new nuclear arms race given what the administration has said about its intentions. But this does have to be seen as a response to the threat posed by China’s rapidly growing medium range missile capabilities.
Is this truly the death knell of arms control?
I don’t believe so. The new START Treaty remains in force, and it limits strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States and Russia. That treaty was a direct successor to the Moscow Treaty, another strategic nuclear weapons limitations agreement. And note, that agreement was negotiated by now National Security Adviser John Bolton. Rather than call this INF decision the death knell of arms control, I’d call it a shot across the bow regarding the importance of compliance. After all, this is not the only treaty whose terms are being violated… As Barack Obama said on the subject of arms control treaties, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” Amen.
There are no comments available.
1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
© 2019 American Enterprise Institute