U.S withdrawl from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty - Analysis - Seeker's Thoughts

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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

U.S withdrawl from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty - Analysis


U.S. Withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty : why?

US president Donald Trump announced on February 1 ,2019 that the United States will pull out of the three-decade-old intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, which had signed with Russia during the cold war in 1987.

Trump announced that the US will suspend its obligations under the pact and begin the process withdrawing from it on February 2, 2019. 
He stated that the US will exit the treaty in six months unless Russia come back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment, explaining the decision. He said that for arms control to effective contribute to national security; all parties must faithfully implement their obligations.

Trump alleged that Russia has violated the agreement and that they have been violating it for many years. He said that the US would not let Russia violate a nuclear agreement and go out and develop the weapons while the US is not allowed to.

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?

The INF treaty was signed in 1987 between the former US president Ronald and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev.
It was an important cold-war era treaty prohibiting development as it banned the use of short and medium range missiles testing and possession of grounded-launched conventional as well as nuclear missile of both short (500-1000km)and long ranges (!000-5500km).

However, Russia appears to have been covertly violating it in letter and spirit. The U.S in 2008 expressed concern over the Russia Novato 9M729 missile tests.  In 2014 alleged that Russia was testing a ground-based cruise missile.

The significance
This treaty played an important role in ending arms race between two superpowers during cold war. It has protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet Missile attacks. It was designed to incorporate some strategic stability on the European continent.

What was the Russia’s reaction?
In response Russia’s president vlamdir putin announced in 2 February that Russia will also abandon its obligations under the cold-war era nuclear arms control treaty.

Putin stated that Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty and would no longer initiate walks with the United States on any matters related to nuclear arms control.
Putin said, that Russia will only deploy short and intermediate-range nuclear missile if US does so as well.

Was Russia actually violating the treaty terms and condition?

According to information dating to the Obama administration, it seems so, during the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, the United Sates accused Russia of violating the treaty by deploying prohibited tactical nuclear weapons designed to intimidate Europe and the former soviet states that have aligned with the west.

President Obama personally informed president Putin of Russia in a letter that the United States believed the Russians were violating the treaty, but that he wanted to resolve the issue through dialogue and preserve the accord.

The Russia has said there is no violation.

The trump administration has repeatedly alleged that Russia has violated the treaty. The US insists the Russian have, in breach of the deal developed a new medium-range missile called ‘Novator 9m729’- known to NATO as the SSC-8 the cruise missile that could be threatening to European nations.

Russian officials put a newly modified version of that missile on display for a foreign audience for the first time in an attempt to rebut the accusations that the weapon violates the treaty.

Trump administration officials, who first signaled last year that they would withdraw the United States from the treaty.

Is china obliged to honour the I.N.F Treaty?
No, and it may be greater concern to the trump administration than Russia.

While the Chinese military is carving out a greater sphere of influence in the western pacific the INF treaty constrains the US from pacing short and intermediate-range missiles on land near china as a deterrent.
For this and other reasons, Mr. Trump and his national security adviser, have called the INF treaty outdated.
In 2018, the US nuclear posture review noted that Beijing was steaming forward with the expansion of its cruise-missile arsenal, potentially neutralizing the capability of American warships that could seek to approach the Chinese coastline during a standoff.

Impact
The withdrawal of the US from treaty could provoke an arms race, not only with Russia, but also with China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, similar to the one that was occurring when the agreement was unusually signs in the 1980s.

The decision comes as the US has begun building it first ling-range nuclear weapons since 1991, a move that other nations are citing to justify their own nuclear modernisation efforts.
The move signals an end to the more than half-century of traditional nuclear arms control, in which the key agreements were negotiated in US and Russia,


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