The United States has decided to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which it signed with the Soviet Union and its legal successor, the Russian Federation.
The agreement that was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and which heralded the end of the Cold War no longer makes sense, because “Russia has been violating it for many years”, US President Donald Trump said on Saturday.
The INF Treaty stipulated that the Soviet Union, and subsequently Russia, could not produce or keep nuclear missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km, which could be used to attack countries in Europe (SS-20).
The US, in turn, agreed not to deploy Pershing-2 missiles in Europe, which could reach Moscow in a matter of minutes.
“They have been violating the treaty for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” Trump said, adding that the US would be starting to develop its own weapons. “We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”
The idea of pulling out from the INF Treaty was advanced by US National Security Adviser John Bolton, a source in the White House told The Guardian.
Bolton blocked all planned negotiations and even called off the meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, stating that Russia has been growing its nuclear arsenal for years and developing new weapons, and has been flaunting this fact openly. A clear example is Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly in 2018, as well as his subsequent rhetoric.
Bolton has also spoken against the extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) signed by Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, The Guardian’s sources claim. This treaty limits the US’s number of ICBM-suitable nuclear warheads to 155.
The US believes that Russia’s 9M729 missile violates the INF Treaty. Russia has also accused the US of violating it, claiming that the anti-missile defense systems deployed in Romania and soon to be deployed in Poland could also be used offensively.