According to the BBC, the US decision to walk away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty has significant consequences for the future of arms control, for perceptions of the US and its approach to the world – but also for strategic competition between both the US and Russia on one hand, and Washington and Beijing on the other.
The INF treaty is significant in that it banned a whole category of nuclear missiles: ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500-5,500km (300-3,400 miles). These were seen as highly destabilising, so the deal marked a major step forward in arms control. The treaty was an important element in a whole network of disarmament and arms reduction treaties that sought to manage and reduce tensions during the Cold War.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces in Europe (INF) treaty.
Why is Trump pulling out of the treaty negotiated by Ronald Reagan? How will Russia respond to the U.S. withdrawal from the INF? What role does China’s growing military build-up play in Trump’s decision?
The US is saturated with weapons and doesn’t need a new nuclear build-up, former congressman Ron Paul has told RT, commenting on President Donald Trump’s threat to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces in Europe (INF) treaty.
The former Republican congressman and head of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity told RT that he doesn’t believe a potential US withdrawal from the 1987 treaty would do anything to enhance US security.
Trump, if he follows through with his threat and tears down the landmark treaty, signed between US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, “won’t do us any good,” Paul said.
The US military industrial complex will try to justify the nuclear build-up by pointing to China’s militarization, a growing source of concern for the military establishment.
“It means that the American government, the military industrial complex wants to make a lot more weapons, because it is the Chinese: ‘The Chinese are making all those weapons, why can’t’ we?'”
Paul doesn’t believe that the supposed Chinese menace is a legitimate reason to keep churning out more weapons.
We have enough weapons, not only to self-destruct but to destroy the world 10 times over and we don’t need to worry about not having enough weapons around.
If the US pulls out of the treaty, it’s not because there is any need for more weaponry.
“I don’t think that’s a real argument,” Paul said.
On Monday, Trump doubled down on his threat to scrap the INF treaty, telling reporters that Russia has not adhered to it. US authorities accuse Moscow of producing the weapons prohibited under the treaty, a claim Russia strongly denies. In turn, it accuses the US of flaunting its obligations by installing anti-missile systems in Europe that could be used to deploy intermediate-range cruise missiles.
Trump indicated that he would like any replacement treaty to also curb China’s nuclear build-up, and said the US would keep building nukes until both Moscow and Beijing “come to their senses.”
The INF treaty, which came into effect in 1998, is one of the few obstacles still standing in the way of nuclear proliferation after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002, the other one being the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). However, the fate of the latter is also uncertain, with US National Security Advisor John Bolton saying on Monday that Washington has yet to finalize its position on the treaty.
Trump’s plans to pull the US out of the INF have already been slammed by US allies in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron warned that US withdrawal would undermine European security, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called INF “an important pillar of our European security architecture.”
China has also chastised Trump for his intent to upend a crucial part of the international security infrastructure. The Chinese Foreign Minister warned that such a unilateral withdrawal will lead to a “multilateral negative effect.”
The INF treaty outlaws the development, production and deployment of all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.