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What a breach of the INF may lead to

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In August 2019, the fate of the INF will be finally decided.  On February 2, 2019, the American side announced the suspension of the implementation of the Treaty between the USSR and the USA.  This situation is quite in the spirit of Washington: this is not the first, and perhaps not the last treaty, which the States neglect.  In 2001, America unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems of 1972, which was considered an integral part of the entire system of control over strategic offensive arms.  During Trump’s presidency, the States renegotiated a free trade zone agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, withdrew from the UN climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

The INF was of great historical importance, it was the first Soviet-American treaty that not only limited weapons production, but also significantly reduced it.  The USSR and the United States signed a treaty in 1987 with the aim of curbing the arms race that broke out in the second half of the 1970s.  By agreement, the United States and the USSR have committed themselves not to produce, test or deploy ballistic and cruise ground-based missiles of medium (from 1,000 to 5,500 kilometers) and short (from 500 to 1,000 kilometers) range.  Moreover, America and the USSR pledged to destroy all launchers and land-based missiles with a range of from 500 to 5,500 kilometers for three years.

The United States has been talking about withdrawing from the Treaty for the first time, declaring its bilateral effectiveness ineffective.  “The motto of the INF policy should be as follows: expand it or destroy it,” said Bolton in the Wall Street Journal in collaboration with former Deputy Secretary of State Paula de Sutter.  Russia has not adhered to the INF Treaty, and the provisions of the Treaty do not apply to China at all.

It was the behavior of the Russian side that, according to the States, was the reason for withdrawing from the treaty.  The United States blamed Russia for the fact that, developed for the modernization of the operational-tactical missile complex Iskander-M, the new 9M729 missile violates the Treaty because it has a range of over 500 km.  Moreover, Washington ignored the briefing given by the Russian Ministry of Defense, which demonstrated the tactical and technical characteristics of the new missile.

In turn, the Russian side has accumulated a lot of complaints about the US observance of its part of the Treaty.  Moscow demanded the destruction of the MK-41 universal launchers deployed on land, designed to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles;  target missiles with similar characteristics to medium-range and shorter-range ground-based ballistic missiles (for testing anti-ballistic missile defense systems);  as well as the destruction of strike unmanned aerial vehicles, which, according to their characteristics, meet the definition of the term “cruise missile of a land-based.  Russian requirements remained unanswered.

It is easy to predict what the next disregard of Washington may lead to.  And the States themselves do not hide the fact that the goal of withdrawing from the treaty is to increase military pressure on the PRC and, most likely, short-range and medium-range US missiles will be placed primarily in Japan and the Republic of Korea.  Furthermore, by abandoning the INF Treaty, the United States will be able to deploy ground-based missiles with a range of up to 5.5 thousand kilometers in close proximity to Russian borders, for example, in Poland and the Baltic countries.  Obviously, the next step will be the US withdrawal from the “New Start”.  Thus, the last treaty controlling the situation with nuclear weapons will disappear.  This, in turn, will lead to an unrestricted nuclear arms race and heightening the risks of a nuclear war.

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Most international treaties include mechanisms for abrogation by member nations....nothing different about INF.   Lacking such provisions would mean far fewer international treaties being affirmed at all, and the loss of sovereignty (e.g. Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol treaty in 2011, the only member nation to do so.)  Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin also assailed the INF treaty as ineffective in 2008 because it only applied to Russia and the United States.  

The risk of nuclear conflict is not mitigated by the INF treaty, as many other geopolitical factors and growing number of state and non-state actors matter much more.


Edited by bush_cheney2004
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