Clearing the way for a new arms race with Russia, the United States will officially withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on Friday. In the year of 1987, the treaty was concluded by then US president Ronald Rogan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev which bounded the Cold War powers’ medium-range conventional and nuclear missiles.
US President Donald Trump’s administration, earlier this year declared that it will abandon the treaty alleging Moscow has repeatedly violated the terms. However, Russia has denied all the charges.
The new US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has remarked, “I think the INF Treaty has served us well, but it only works if both parties comply.”
“The United States will remain in compliance with all of our obligations until August 2nd — and after that point in time, we will continue to pursue what is in our best interest,” he told lawmakers.
On February 1, Washington had formally launched the method of leaving the treaty which is a six-month process. Russian President Vladimir Putin temporarily prevented Moscow’s participation by signing a bill into law on July 3.
Unless something changes in the coming days, the mutual withdrawal will spell the end of the deal, which eliminated a range of missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310-3,420 miles).
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “Most of China’s inventory is of intermediate-range missiles and so we need to make sure we have the capability as well to respond should we — God forbid — get in a fight with them one day.”
Thomas Mahnken, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies said that the US must now deploy medium-range conventional weapons on its islands in the Pacific and other territory controlled by its allies.