Citing that the Russians have been in breach for years, and are making no effort to come into compliance, President Donald J. Trump has withdrawn the US from a legendary Reagan Era nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
The historic agreement, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev 30 years ago.
The treaty was killed when President Trump decided to withdraw. According to an unnamed “senior White House official,” the move to scrap the INF comes amid the administration’s assessment that Russia was in “material breach of the treaty” and made no effort to “come back into compliance” with the agreement.
As Fox News is reporting, Russia was given a six-month period, in accordance with the treaty, as a “final opportunity to come back into compliance” with the agreement, but the government headed by President Vladimir Putin “has made no efforts to do that,” the official added.
The end of the treaty sparks a new global arms race between the two countries, which possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, which some perceive as a return to the Cold War that led to the fall of the former Soviet Union.
Blame for Collapse of INF Completely on the Russians
The Trump administration has stressed it was Russia’s fault the treaty came to an end, pointing out that Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Europe.
“Russia alone is to blame for this situation,” the senior official said. “We have taken every opportunity — dozens and dozens of opportunities across two administrations – to bring Russia back into compliance.”
The US has long complained that the treaty was no longer fair and actually doesn’t stop the arms race as intended, as Russia was openly violating it, while China, which is a non-signatory, is free to develop weapons that would otherwise be prohibited.
For example, according to the Trump administration, Russia has produced and fielded multiple battalions of the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile throughout Russia, which is a direct violation of the treaty. That class of missile has the ability to strike critical European targets.
“This violation, which has been underway for many years, is a critical threat to American and Allied security now. That is why this action has become unavoidable,” the senior official said.
Another White House official, also who chose to remain nameless, pointed out that Russia has been deceptive about its military buildup, particularly denying the development of a ground-launched cruise missile in 2014 that is now fielded and poses a security risk to Europe.
“Throughout the process, they lied about the existence of the missiles at both the expert level and, finally when confronted with the evidence, came clean for this in the past several months,” the official said.
European powers came out to criticize Russia for not complying with the INF treaty amid the US announcement of withdrawing from the agreement.
“We regret the fact that Russia has not done what was necessary to save the INF treaty,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“Now we call all the more on Russia and the U.S. to preserve the New START treaty as a cornerstone of worldwide arms control,” he added. “Nuclear powers such as China must also face up to their responsibility on arms control — they have more weight in the world than at the time of the Cold War.”
Both the US and Russia will have to decide whether to extend or replace the larger New START treaty when it expires in early 2021, a treaty that imposed limits starting in 2018 on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.
Trump hasn’t committed to extending the treaty and even once calling it as “just another bad deal” concocted by his predecessor, Barack Obama.