U.S. Suspends Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

  • The United States of America on February 1, 2019 announced that it was suspending ‘Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’ (INF) treaties with Russia, following five years of heated conversations over accusations by the United States that Moscow is violating the Reagan-era agreement. 
  • On the other hand, Russia has denounced USA’s decision to leave a landmark Cold War nuclear missile treaty.  Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, US exit was not a question of Russia’s guilt but is instead the strategy of the United States to get out of its international legal obligations in different areas. 
  • There is a fear that this decision has the potential to incite a new arms race — not only with Russia, but also with China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

About INF Treaty

  • The INF treaty resolved a crisis of the 1980s when the USSR deployed a missile in Europe called the SS-20, capable of carrying three nuclear warheads. The USA responded with cruise and Pershing II missiles based in Europe.
  • Then US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time, negotiated the deal to ban the weapons in 1987, the intermediate-range missiles had come to be seen as a hair trigger for nuclear war because of their short flight times — as little as 10 minutes.
  • The treaty prohibited land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 311 miles and 3,420 miles.
  • The treaty did not cover air- or sea-launched weapons, such as the American Tomahawk and Russian Kalibr cruise missiles fired from ships, submarines or airplanes, although those missiles fly similar distances.

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