The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and a New Cold War?
On Friday, February 1st, US President Donald Trump affirmed that the United States had begun withdrawing the country from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The decision was internationally regretted.
The INF Treaty, as it is known, is an international instrument that was signed between the United States and the (then) Soviet Union in Washington, on December 8, 1987. It is the result of six years of negotiations between the highest authorities of the two nations. The main objective was to achieve the total elimination of medium-range missiles.
This treaty constitutes one of the most important moves to propel nuclear disarmament and paved the way for the end of the Cold War. The unilateral exit of the United States may lead the world to a new arms race. But it is not the first time that a Republican president has abandoned an important treaty on weapons control.
In December 2001, George W. Bush announced the unilateral departure of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), whereby both the Soviet Union and the United States committed to drastically reduce their anti-missile systems arsenals, back in 1972.
For a long time, covenants in the field of arms limitation were the basis of global stability. Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the INF treaty weakens international security and fuels an escalation of tensions that may affect even Latin America.
The United States is trying to charge the decision – considered by different foreign analysts as a destructive step –, in alleged violations of the agreement by Russia. In addition, the US refuses to substantively discuss its preservation. For the White House, the decision is made and there is no turning back.
At the same time, there are several essential claims about the INF Treaty for Washington (shock drones, target missiles, universal launch ramps). However, the United States does not intend to discuss its own violations and prefer to exert plain pressure on other countries.
On February 7, Moscow revealed its willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue with Washington, in order to maintain and update the INF Treaty.
Washington demands unconditional support to the White House policy on the treaty and blames Russia for its "forced" withdrawal from the agreement. However, history records that the United States, traditionally, has ignored the opinion of the international community, which declares in favor of strengthening control over nuclear weapons.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist and editor of InfoRel. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.