Arms Control in Crisis
The Trump administration has lately declared the suspension of the US obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia that was built over decades with consistent efforts and hard-work by multiple US administrations. By August this year, the US will revoke the treaty if Russia fails to get back to compliance. Clearly, the treaty is dead as expectations for Russia getting back to compliance are fairly dim considering the evolving security trends at the regional and global level.
Initiated in 1987, bilaterally the most comprehensive arrangement with far-reaching impact led to restraining both the US and Russia from developing nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Moreover, the two states agreed to pursue verifiable removal of 2,692 missiles deployed in Europe and the withdrawal of thousands of tactical nuclear weapons from forward-deployed locations. The treaty yielded result-oriented impact by building trust and strategic stability between the two states thereby becoming a pillar of European security architecture and setting normative trends globally in order to control horizontal and vertical proliferation.
The broader arms control culture will be adversely affected in the wake of the demise of the INF treaty. There is a greater risk of a new intermediate-range, ground-based missile arms race between the US and Russia, in Europe and the broader Asia-pacific. Death of the treaty will also have a destabilizing impact on the broader non-proliferation regime thereby increasing proliferation trends and decreasing hope for global nuclear disarmament.
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