Beginning Saturday, the United States will suspend its current involvement in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The suspension will be the beginning of the out country withdrawing completely over the course of the next six months.
In a statement released Friday, President Trump offered “for far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad.”
Trump went on to lay out the timeline of suspension of the obligations currently standing with the INF Treaty on Saturday, with the end result of the United States being completely withdrawn in an estimated six months. He did state that the timeline would be stuck to “unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment.”
The sole intent and purpose of the INF Treaty, when signed by both countries, was to assure that neither would have in their possession or at their disposal any land-based cruise missiles with the capacity of striking within the ranges of 310 to 3,410 miles.
The primary purpose of the treaty, signed by both then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, was to make sure that any ground-based nuclear weapons were to be kept out of Europe.
Russia has known to have been in violations of the treaty for more than five years now. In December of last year, the United States issued a statement that they had given Russia sixty days to return to the signed and agreed upon specifications and expectations or they would be considered to officially be in “material breach”.
Included in his statement Friday, Trump said that the United States has the support of the NATO allies on the decision to withdraw from the original agreement, adding “because they understand the threat posed by Russia’s violation and the risks to arms control posed by ignoring treaty violations.”
Many understand that treaties that are signed and accepted need to be upheld—and none more so than those involving weapons that could cause mass destruction. However, the United States pulling out of the INF Treaty could pose a whole new host of problems, as well as various threats to come. To this end, many experts feel that Trump is walking a very rigid tight rope and that one little slip one way or the other could leave the United States not better off, but embroiled in a possible international incident.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Is Trump setting up the United States for a possible showdown with Russia?