By Miriam Raftery
February 5, 2019 (Washington D.C.) – The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty negotiated by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev may soon be history. Last week, President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the treaty for years and announced that the U.S. would no longer honor its commitments under the treaty unless Russia complies within six months. Russia claimed it is not in violation and retaliated Friday by announcing it is pulling out of the landmark pact.
The treaty was negotiated to end the nuclear arms race after the Soviet Union positioned a short-range missile in Europe and the U.S. responded with Cruise and Pershing II missiles, also in Europe.
Trump is not the only U.S. president to accuse Russia of cheating on the treaty terms. President Barack Obama advised Russian President Vladimir Putin in a letter that Russia was violating the treaty by deploying banned nuclear weapons during the 2014 Ukraine situation in an effort to intimidate Europe from intervening. Now the U.S. says the
Russians are again deploying a prohibited land-cased cruise missile that could threaten Europe.
The New York Times reports that the treaty also prohibits the U.S. from putting short or long range missiles on land near China, as well as Russia.
U.S. withdrawal from the treaty has drawn criticism in Europe and domestically. The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini told European Union defense ministers this week that he hopes to see the treaty maintained. European leaders have called for negotiations to pressure Russia to comply.
Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachyov called the withdrawal a victory for “Washington’s hawks led by John Bolton.” Putin has warned that Russia could rapidly deploy banned missiles, putting Europe’s security at risk.
Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued this statement: “Once again, when given the opportunity to put America first or Russia first, the Trump Administration chooses the latter. Russia should be held accountable for its violations, not rewarded as this decision does. “The Trump administration needs to stand with our NATO allies and stand up to Russia, instead of putting us on a dangerous path of another nuclear arms race.”