The United States to leave the INF due to “Russian Violations”

Sungwon Chung ‘22

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Recently, President Trump has confirmed that the United States will pull out of the INF treaty. This statement comes after Russia allegedly violated the treaty, creating a nuclear rocket that defied the treaty’s terms. Since then, Russia has also been claiming of illegal biological labs owned by the US, as well as other research facilities that go against international law.


The INF treaty was created and signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Its purpose was to eliminate both U.S. and Russian intermediate ground-based nuclear missiles, with ranges from 500 km to 5,500 km. Just four years after the treaty was signed, the last U.S. and Soviet missiles were disarmed and eliminated.


Since then, both countries have held up their side of the treaty. However, on March of this year, Putin announced the creation of a new Russian missile that directly violates the INF, building a nuclear rocket able to strike anywhere on the planet. In response, the Trump administration stated that the U.S. would pull out of the treaty. “Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out,” Trump said. Russia denies fault for the violations, claiming that the United States has been violating the terms as well, and that it all started with President George W. Bush back in 2002.


If the US does indeed pull out of the treaty, some say that there may be a new arms race on the horizon. This includes a former 87-year-old former Soviet leader who stated, “A new arms race has been announced.” However, the Russian media states otherwise to its people. They say that Trump is just announcing he will pull out as a “political ploy” before the midterm elections in order to improve his image as a strong leader.


Some say that if the two countries do not ease tensions soon or schedule talks to renegotiate, there will definitely be a new cold war era. Some perceive it could be more dangerous than the cold war, due to the rapid growth of tensions. When asked about his opinion, Jimmy Bao ‘22, stated that “I don’t like any chance of a cold war taking place, no matter how little. It can bring back the anxiety that some say they faced during the first cold war.” However, most analysts doubt another cold war.


Many officials in the U.S. believe that there won’t be a new arms race, at least not for a while, since it takes at least six months for a country to formally leave the treaty. They also state that the INF does not include any rules against sea-based missiles in submarines and larger vessels, (which have not started their own nuclear race) so the rationale is that adding ground missiles and launchers will not escalate tensions too much. Hudson Yu ‘22, also agrees that “the decision to pull out of the treaty is a good idea, since it will help strengthen America’s standing as the leading nation for technology.”


As a nuclear arms race will deplete resources and money from both the U.S. and Russia, critics say that neither country really wants one to take place. However, even if the two countries decide to face off in a new cold war, neither country will progress much in this conflict until Trump’s presidency is over, since the current technology of ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) will take at least nine to fifteen years to fully replace the currently aging versions.


The main question that people should be asking is, “Is pulling out of the treaty the right choice for the United States?” The simple answer is yes. With only the U.S. and Russia taking part in the treaty, other countries are not restricted by the same boundaries as they are. Stephan Ginyard, a former U.S. military official, offers a similar perspective: “We have this very unusual circumstance where the United States and Russia are in a bilateral treaty, whereas other countries in the world are not bound by it.” China, for example, can create nuclear weapons without violating the INF since China was never a participant of it. Also, since Russia is already violating the treaty, if the U.S. remains faithful, it will fall behind in technology compared to Russia.


The removal of the INF does not mean that there will be a new cold war. Effects of the cold war in the twentieth century have taught every nation that such an arms race is costly, and will harm the economy of all nations involved. With greater economic competition than ever before, neither country would want to take part in another nuclear face off. It is likely that both Russia and the US will create a new negotiation; one that includes more countries, and assures the safety of the world.

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The United States to leave the INF due to “Russian Violations”