President Donald Trump has declared the US will be pulling out of the nuclear treaty with Russia which has a legacy that’s lasted decades. The Immediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, was struck with Russia over 30 years ago, in 1987.
Russia warns that pulling out of this treaty will condemn the US, this ‘very dangerous step’ will no doubt heighten tensions already building between the US and Moscow.
Trump hits back at Moscow, claiming Russia has violated this treaty for many years after an alleged ground-launched cruise missile was tested from Russian soil.
Such a move was not endorsed by Barack Obama due to the advisement of European leaders over a possible arms race between the two powers, with no guarantee of victory.
What is the INF?
The INF is an arms control treaty that effectively banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles in short to medium ranges (500-5500km), excluding sea launches.
The Document was signed by both the US and the USSR in 1987 over growing concern the nuclear capability of each state, meant to bring a more secure peace between the two states.
The Soviet SS-20 missile still remained a threat to the US and took action in Europe, by strategically placing a number of Pershing and Cruise missiles across the continent, causing protests both in Russia and in Europe.
Over 2700 missiles were destroyed by 1991, with both countries allowing the other to inspect their nuclear facilities and other installations.
In 2002, George W. Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, drawn up to ban weapons to counter ballistic missiles, to which Vladimir Putin reacted to, 5 years later, by declaring the INF no longer suited Russian interests.
In logistics, America’s move was to set up a ‘missile shield’ in Europe, which was replaced by the Obama administration in 2009 and has been modified again since 2016.
Why is Trump pulling out now?
President Trump has said: Russia will not “go out and do weapons when we’re not allowed to”, but Russia denies ever breaking the missile treaty.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton will be in Moscow over the next week to bring a verdict on President Trump’s accusations, expected to bring the withdrawal that Trump wants.
How has Russia Responded?
Russia’s spokesman and Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, has said: “This would be a very dangerous step that, I’m sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation”. The treaty is “significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability,” he told state news agency Tass.
However, Mr Ryabkov has accused the US of using its international power to gain concessions “through a method of blackmail” defensive to the point that he argues that if the US continues this pattern of behaviour then Russia ” will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures, including involving military technology”.