This op-ed originally appeared in Politico Magazine, Dec. 5, 2018.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Tuesday that the United States will soon “suspend” its obligations under 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty—an arms-control treaty credited with helping to end the Cold War – in response to the prolonged Russian violation of the agreement. If Russia does not return to compliance in 60 days, Pompeo said, the United States will formally announce its intention to withdraw from the treaty, as President Trump declared he would do last month.
The two of us have advised President Trump in different capacities—Burt as an informal campaign adviser, and Countryman as a top State Department official in the early days of his administration. Together, we have decades of experience at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy dealing directly with the toughest weapons-related security challenges.
While we agree the Russian violation is serious and must be addressed, terminating the agreement does nothing to convince the Kremlin to return to compliance or reverse any military advantage that its noncompliant missile might provide. Nor is it realistic, as Secretary Pompeo “hopes,” that the threat of U.S. withdrawal will convince Russia to “change course” and return to compliance with the treaty.
Read the full op-ed in Politico Magazine, Dec. 5, 2018.