Wall Street Journal: Nuclear Arms Treaty

The United States announced plans to suspend its obligations under a 1987 nuclear-arms control treaty and “begin withdrawing from the pact, after talks to compel Russia to destroy missiles and launchers the U.S. maintains breach the agreement failed,” report Vivian Salama and Courtney McBride for the Wall Street Journal. “Friday’s announcement from the Trump administration follows revelations that Russia has expanded its deployment of its Novator 9M729 missile, which Russia insists is fully compliant with the treaty.” The treaty signed by former US President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev banned land-based missiles that can fly between 300 and 3,400 miles. Europe is a potential target for such missile, and NATO officials expressed support for the US decision though individual European leaders express concern. The Trump administration suggests that reducing nuclear proliferation is a major priority. – YaleGlobal

Wall Street Journal: Nuclear Arms Treaty

The US begins six-month process of withdrawal from 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces pact after talks failed on Russian breaches
Vivian Salama and Courtney McBride
Friday, February 1, 2019

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, WASHINGTON: The U.S. will suspend its obligations under a Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia and said it would begin withdrawing from the pact, after talks to compel Russia to destroy missiles and launchers the U.S. maintains breach the agreement failed, the White House said on Friday.

Administration officials have indicated for months that they were willing to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, and on Thursday, both countries announced that discussions to save it failed.

Friday’s announcement from the Trump administration follows revelations that Russia has expanded its deployment of its Novator 9M729 missile, which Russia insists is fully compliant with the treaty. “The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions,” President Trump said in a statement Friday. “We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other.”

Russia’s ongoing violation of the INF Treaty “puts millions of Europeans and Americans at greater risk,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters. “It aims to put the United States at a military disadvantage, and it undercuts the chances of moving our bilateral relationship in a better direction.”

On Saturday, the U.S. will trigger its formal withdrawal process, which will last six months. Russia has the option of reversing course during that period if it accepts U.S. demands to destroy those missiles and their launchers. “It will be in Russia’s best interest to return to full and verifiable compliance with this treaty,” a senior administration official said. “This is their final chance.”

But the official said the Trump administration wasn’t optimistic Russia would resume compliance. “We have really gone through from political and technical levels everything that needs to be done,” the administration official said Friday. “We are unfortunately at an impasse.”

Signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the pact was hailed as a landmark treaty signaling the end of the Cold War. The 1987 treaty bans U.S. and Russian land-based missiles that can fly between 300 and 3,400 miles.

The missile system was first fielded in 2017. Its continued production and deployment underscores the importance the Russians place on it, even as they have advocated resolving the U.S. allegations through diplomacy. NATO “fully supports” the U.S. suspension and notification of withdrawal, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday. “Russia is in material breach of the #INFTreaty & must use next 6 months to return to full & verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Pompeo said that curbing nuclear proliferation remains a priority for the Trump administration. “Let’s be clear: If there is an arms race, it is Russia that is starting it,” the senior administration official said. “We reject the assertion that it’s the United States that is opening the door to an arms race.”

Vivian Salama joined The Wall Street Journal in May 2018 to cover the White House. Courtney McBride covers foreign policy and national security for The Wall Street Journal in Washington, DC.

© 2019 Dow Jones & Company Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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