In the absence of active U.S.-Russian efforts to resolve disagreements over the INF Treaty, other nations may be
able to lead the way toward preventing a new arms race.
The INF Treaty crisis threatens far more than the INF Treaty.
Every U.S. president since John Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia or the Soviet Union to reduce nuclear dangers. These agreements have helped to slash nuclear stockpiles, manage nuclear competition, and provide greater stability, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe between the world’s two largest nuclear actors.
Termination of the INF Treaty allows Russia and the United States to deploy new ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, increasing the risk of a new destabilizing arms race. Congress must adopt legislation to prohibit funding for the procurement, flight-testing, or deployment of U.S. ground-launched or ballistic missiles until the Trump administration meets seven specific conditions.
The INF Treaty crisis is a global security problem. Nations will need to step forward with creative and pragmatic solutions that create the conditions necessary to ensure that the world’s two largest nuclear actors meet their legal obligations to end the arms race and reduce nuclear threats.
The difficulties of getting to “yes” on an agreement to extend New START, much less a subsequent strategic
nuclear arms control accord, should not be underestimated.
U.S. and Russia trade blame as they look to develop new weapons systems.
Next month, it is very likely the Trump administration will take the next step toward fulfilling the president’s threat to “terminate” one of the most far-reaching and most successful nuclear arms reduction agreements: the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which led to the verifiable elimination of 2,692 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe.