Having officially declared suspension of its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 (the INF Treaty) in early February and full withdrawal from August 2, 2019, the United States continues its unilaterally launched process of severance of the important document, which made it possible to eliminate two classes of intermediate- and short-range nuclear missiles by summer 1991.
Earlier, it seemed that the Treaty suited Washington in all aspects. Of course it did. Under its terms, the Soviet Union destroyed two times more nuclear missile carriers than the United States. But now the White House has a totally different scenario in mind.
It claims the reason for its withdrawal from the INF Treaty is Russia’s failure to observe it, allegedly by design and deployment of a new land-based cruise missile, 9M729. But America has been unable to provide any proof of that so far. Despite that, it has not been satisfied with numerous explanations Moscow has given to Washington in the last five years during about 30 official consultations with US government officials.
The United States has long rejected Russian initiatives aimed at settling complaints in the context of execution of the 1987 treaty via mutual transparency measures. Washington is not willing to continue the dialog, but has decided to present the Russian party with an ultimatum, of an odd format and unacceptable content, demanding destruction of 9M729 cruise missiles.
It is fair to ask: has the US party not violated the INF Treaty itself? Facts, being “stubborn things,” say that it has. And not once.
In the last almost 20 years, the Pentagon has used intermediate- and short-range target missiles 117 times when checking the efficiency of its global missile defense system. These were six new versions of target missiles, specifically developed by the United States to simultaneously pursue two goals: testing GMD interceptor missiles and also intermediate- and short-range missiles. The first use of interceptor missiles of the anti-missile shield by the US military for intercepting short-range target missiles that fall under the terms of the Treaty is dated October 2, 1999, i.e. almost 20 years ago.
To put it briefly, the United States actually and unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty long ago. Then what are the true reasons for its withdrawal from it now, if it has so far been unable to prove its breach by the Russian Federation?
It seems that the US Administration had several motives to do so.
First. The US wants to create and deploy new types of road-mobile cruise and ballistic intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, Asia and Asia Pacific in order to contain the alleged “Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean threat.”
Second. Washington intends to repeat the dangerous situation created by NATO’s “double decision” adopted in December 1979, when the alliance gave a green light to storing 846 US intermediate-range nuclear missiles in some European countries, which resulted in an extremely intense nuclear crisis between the US/NATO and the Soviet Union.
Third. The US wants to get Russia’s consent to unilaterally destroy some new ballistic and cruise missiles of the short, intermediate and intercontinental range, and future hypersonic systems that do not fall within the scope of the 1987 Treaty only in order to prevent Washington from withdrawing from the Treaty
Fourth. Initiating withdrawal from the INF Treaty, the US military and political leaders are trying to get China engaged in a renewed dialog on restrictions of intermediate- and short-range missiles, in which it does not want to participate.
Fifth. Artificially escalating the situation with nuclear missiles, the White House would like to put pressure on its NATO allies, getting them to increase their military spending to 2% of their respective GDPs and later to 4%.
Obviously, the breakup of the INF Treaty will have most negative consequences for international security and global stability. It may trigger an arms race in several areas, such as nuclear missiles, missile defense and outer space. The entire system of arms control, where Washington already has a negative attitude about the twelve agreements and treaties signed earlier or proposed as international projects, will be eroded further. This may also jeopardize the non-proliferation regime and prospects of further restrictions of nuclear weapons.
But the United States does not seem to worry about these prospects. And this is sad. In such circumstances, Washington and its NATO allies are solely responsible for the aggravation of the international situation.
Written by Vladimir P. Kozin, Source - “Info SCO: Shanghai Cooperation Organization magazine” №15, April 2019