INF treaty becomes history

INF treaty becomes history

The United States is expected to officially withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty today, bringing an end to more than three decades of strategic stability amid calls to continue cooperating with Russia on arms control matters.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has officially confirmed that the operation of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty has been terminated at the initiative of the United States as of August 2.

"On August 2, 2019 at the initiative of the American side the operation of the treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States on the elimination of intermediate and shorter range missiles signed in Washington on December 8, 1987 was terminated," the Foreign Ministry announced on the legal information website on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the withdrawal from the INF treaty. "On Feb 2nd, 2019 the U.S. gave Russia six months to return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Russia refused, so the treaty ends today. The U.S. will not remain party to a treaty when others violate it," he wrote on Twitter.

The Soviet Union and the United States signed the INF Treaty in 1987. The document became one of the most powerful parts of the current arms control structure and architecture. It requires the United States and Russia to eliminate all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

In February, the U.S. formally suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty, triggering a six-month withdrawal process that will conclude in a full withdrawal on 2 August. 

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump said he counts on reaching an agreement on arms control between the United States and Russia. "I think we are going to end making a deal with Russia where we have some kind of an arms control," the U.S. leader said.

First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, doubted that any treaty will be signed instead of the INF treaty.

"At the moment, there's like zero chance of it, no negotiations are underway," he said.

"The Americans are trying to attract China and other countries that now have similar weapons, to negotiations. Therefore, let the Americans who initiated the withdrawal from the INF Treaty attract China. If we they invite us to negotiations, we’ll probably join them. But we won’t initiate anything ourselves now," the senator said.

Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, in turn, stressed that the withdrawal of Russia and the United States from the INF Treaty is a rather serious event, since control over medium- and shorter-range missiles is being lost.

According to him, a new treaty is needed today, which includes not only Moscow and Washington, but also a number of countries possessing these weapons. "These are such states the UK, France, North Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan. If only Russia and the U.S. participate in the signing of the new treaty, then we will be mired in approvals," the expert said.

"This issue should be brought to a meeting of the UN Security Council. The new INF Treaty should be within the framework of five-way contact - with the participation of China, Great Britain, France, the U.S. and Russia. Otherwise, it's hardly possible to implement it," the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting explained.

He also pointed out that certain sanctions must necessarily be prescribed in the new treaty in relation to the country that unilaterally withdraws from it.

Speaking about whether Russia and the U.S. can sign a new bilateral agreement instead of the INF Treaty, he noted that today there are no such prerequisites. "Trump said earlier that we need a new arms control treaty. It should be a larger nuclear arms control treaty, which would include both the INF Treaty and the New START. Will the Americans agree to this? Most likely, the Americans will say things, but they will sign nothing, at least during Trump's presidency," the expert concluded.