- On Friday, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US would withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty if Russia did not abandon a missile that broke the deal.
- The INF was a huge success in reducing nuclear weapons across Europe, but the US and NATO now say Russia has broken the deal and there’s no more point of staying in it.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats attacked Trump for “dividing NATO” and playing into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands, but NATO supports Trump’s desicion.
- If the US stayed in the treaty, it could continue to complain to Russia about the violating missile.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly berated NATO allies and members of his own intelligence community, but when it came to one of the most consequential nuclear decisions of his presidency, he firmly sided with them.
That appeared to be lost on Democrats in Congress who attacked Trump for not working with NATO.
On Friday, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US would withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty if Russia did not get back into compliance.
The INF was perhaps the most successful arms control agreement of all time because it eliminated an entire class of nuclear missiles. The treaty bans nuclear-capable missiles with a range between about 300 and 3,000 miles.
In the 1980s, Russia had intermediate range nuclear missiles pointed at European capitals, which the US responded to be deploying missiles of its own.
In 1987, a waning Soviet Union saw Europe pointing US nuclear warheads at it, and decided to call the whole thing off. In the following years, Europe rapidly denuclearized and the Soviet Union imploded.
The INF only applies to the US and Russia. In the 32 years since the treaty, India, Pakistan, and China have all built weapons that would violate this treaty.
And so has Russia, according to about a decade of US intelligence reports.
Senator Dianne Feinstein claimed the withdrawal would “further divide the United States from our NATO allies,” without mentioning NATO’s support for the move.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump “should exhaust every diplomatic effort and work closely with NATO allies over the next six months to avoid thrusting the United States into a dangerous arms competition,” but NATO holds that Russia violated the treaty and only action from Russia can fix it.
House Democrats on the Armed Services Committee said Trump had played into Putin’s hands and divided NATO, also without mentioning NATO’s full support of the move.
“Russia is in material breach of the #INFTreaty & must use next 6 months to return to full & verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise. #NATO fully supports the US suspension & notification of withdrawal from the Treaty”NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.
If the US remained in the INF treaty, it could continue to complain to Russia about its violations.
Now that the US has withdrawn from the treaty, it can build systems that counter Russia’s violating missiles, which is what drove Russia to enter the treaty in the first place.
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