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U.S. Pulls Out of INF Treaty

INTERMEDIATE- RANGE NUCLEAR FORCES (INF) TREATY, 1987

United States has decided to pull out from the INF treaty with Russia and alleged that Moscow has violated the agreement.I

  • The treaty was signed in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and led to the destruction of more than 2600 missiles by 1991.
  • It originally banned only the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) from deploying all ground-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with a range of 500 to 5500kms. After 1991, treaty also covered Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine under it.
  • Through the treaty, the superpowers for the first time, agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification.
  • As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

Why to pull out from treaty?

Since the inception of 21st century, both Russia and the US have alleged each other for violating the treaty.s

  • According to US, Cold War-era treaty did not address new missile threats from countries such as China, Iran and North Korea, and is therefore redundant.
  • A withdrawal will allow the U.S. to have new weapon options, which are not bound by the INF treaty, in the Pacific region where growing influence of China in the past decade ischallenging the dominance of US in the region. In the recent past, China’s growing military might has become the strategic centrepoint of US nuclear strategy.
  • According to US, the existence of the INF Treaty creates hindrance in establishing a line of total U.S. domination and supremacy in the military sphere all over the world.

Implications of US pulls out

  • US may deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe to counter Russia and in the retaliation Russia may deploy in its exclave of Kaliningrad. This could once again turn Europe into one of the potential nuclear battlefields.
  • It is also likely to negatively impact the increasingly embattled U.S.-Russia arms control enterprise. The U.S.-Russia New START treaty, governing strategic offensive nuclear weapons, was concluded on the assumption that Washington and Moscow would refrain from deploying systems of intermediate range. Any change to the nuclear balance would destabilize the strategic calculations that underpin New START, potentially placing that treaty in jeopardy.
  • US may deploy ground-based missile system in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. This could embolden China to speed up its missile installation in the strategic areas of the region including South China Sea.
  • It could lead to form a bad precedent for the nuclear power countries like North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Israel. These countries may accelerate the process of acquiring more nuclear weapons by resorting to an excuse that responsible nuclear powers like US and Russia do not even adhere to their own treaties of non-proliferating of nuclear weapons.
  • The abrogation of treaty will further accelerate the nuclear armed race. INF abrogation will raise questions regarding the United States’ commitment to arms control in general, lending further weight to the sense that the 21st century will be an era of arms racing rather than negotiation.
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