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6 questions about an arms control treaty on the rocks

25 Octobre 2018

If the United States deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will have to target the countries that might host them, Russian president Vladimir Putin warned on October 24, Associated Press reported.

National Security adviser John Bolton held high-level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, directly confronting Moscow's anger over USA plans to withdraw from a landmark arms control treaty in place since the Cold War.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton told Putin on Tuesday that Washington would press ahead with plans to quit the pact despite objections from Russian Federation and some European countries. "So Russia could keep the missiles it's developing and have fewer of the longer range ones", said Weitz. Russian officials deny the 9M729 is an intermediate-range cruise missile, but the Obama administration, too, had anxious about the class and range of the missile, telling Congress of its concerns in 2011. The weapon has been described as non-compliant with the terms of the treaty.

At issue is Moscow's new 9M729 ground-based missile system, which Washington says has a reach that exceeds 500 kilometers (300 miles) - a claim the Kremlin denies.

Richard Weitz, Ph.D., Hudson Institute senior fellow and director for the Center for Political-Military Analysis, feels by leaving this treaty it opens other lines of communication for both Russian Federation and the United States.

"Russia must return to compliance with the INF Treaty or the US will need to respond to its cavalier disregard for the treaty's specific limits", Mattis said after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

"We write to express our grave concern that the Trump Administration is notifying Russian Federation that the United States intends to unilaterally withdraw from [INF], without any notice to or consulting with Congress", write House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash.; House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Europe and Eurasia subcommittee ranking member Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. The missile capabilities of both superpowers were well above and beyond those of any rivals, and as such, a treaty which bound them to limit their missile capabilities appeared an effective means of ensuring a more stable balance of power and an end to the costly arms race both had for decades pursued. Under Trump, the momentum all seems to be toward ending these treaties and letting the stalled nuclear arms race get going again. All the agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limitation of nuclear arms must be preserved to save life on Earth'.

"We barely respond to any of your steps but they keep on coming", he jokily complained to Bolton. Moreover, it would have allowed us to offset any Russian advantage should Moscow continue to cheat. He said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation did not seek confrontation but stood ready to defend all allies against any threat. Chinese position regarding arms control is that it would be ready to engage once the USA and Russian Federation reduced their arsenals to levels comparable to China's holdings. "But that should not result in throwing the baby out with the bath water".

Putin rejected the claim that Russian Federation has breached the treaty, alleging it was the United States that violated the pact.

Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, now 87 and an original signatory to the treaty, has warned that unraveling the pact could have catastrophic consequences.

Trump's withdrawal announcement is causing particular concern in Europe which was the main beneficiary of the INF treaty as a result of the removal of Pershing and USA cruise missiles from Europe and of Soviet SS-20 missiles from the European part of the then Soviet Union.

"If the USA withdraws from the INF Treaty, what are they going to do with the new missiles?"

He scoffed at critics' claims that the US pullout would be destabilizing, pointing at the USA pullback from another Cold War-era arms control pact - the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that was described as a cornerstone of strategic stability. He cited efforts in weapons development by China, Iran and others not bound by the restrictions of the INF Treaty. They maintain also that it feeds into the perception of a US leader eager to tear up treaties that he believes hamstring America.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government voiced immediate concern over US President Donald Trump's threats to pull out of the INF nuclear arms treaty with Russian Federation.

6 questions about an arms control treaty on the rocks