On 20 October 2018 (below), citing Russian non-compliance, US President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the INF treaty and on 1st February 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. was suspending the treaty.
The INF Treaty eliminated all land-based ballistic and guided cruise missiles, as well as their launchers, with short medium-range and intermediate-range. It did not cover air- or sea-launched missiles. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.
On several occasions since 2008 the US has accused Russia of violating treaty terms by testing the SSC-8 cruise missile. In 2013 it added the development of a new ground-launched cruise missile which violated the INF prohibition of missiles to these charges, but Russia denies that its range violates INF limits.
Russia argues that America’s establishment of bases capable of launching Tomahawk missiles in Poland and Romania and its usage of ballistic “target ” test missiles and armed UAVs such as the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-4 also violates the INF Treaty.
The military-industrial advantages
CNN adds that, according to a report obtained by *Breaking Defense, the US has since 2013 been considering the INF-range missiles it might develop should the treaty collapse. In October 2018, it revealed that unreleased Pentagon documents and Congressional demands for information showed that Washington has long planned for the day when the INF treaty with Russia would be ‘ripped up’.
The report by the Joint Staff and Strategic Command, made it clear that as far back as 2013 — a year before the Obama administration first publicly complained about Russian violations of the treaty — the Defense Department was considering which technologies the US could develop should Washington walk away from the INF.
Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza confirmed that the department continues to work on “a review of U.S. options for conventional, ground-launched, intermediate-range missile systems, which would enable the United States to defend ourselves and our allies, should Russia fail to return to compliance.”
Welcomed by NATO hierarchy
Quartz reports that the start of the withdrawal process, which goes into effect tomorrow, has the backing of the US’s NATO allies – not so – some will oppose any proposal to site and deploy the new generation of nuclear missiles in Europe and such splits within NATO would strengthen Putin’s position
But the withdrawal certainly was welcomed by NATO’s Secretary General on BBC radio and online:
Donald Trump’s failure to alert allies about the final decision was criticised by Richard Burt, former U.S. chief negotiator of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty:
“The overwhelming view of people, not only in the United States and Russia but around the world, will be that it was the United States that killed this treaty . . .The handling of this decision is just simply god awful.”
Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation, commented that the announcement has handed Moscow “the double-victory it sought: keeping a new system that adds to its military strength, while being able to shame/blame the US for accelerating an arms race.”
*Breaking Defense is published by Breaking Media, a network of ‘next-generation business-to-business media brands – including Above the Law, Dealbreaker, MedCity News, Breaking Energy and Breaking Gov.