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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INF Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty

Donald Trump said on 20 October 2018 he would denounce the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement, but provided no details on the violations. The 1987 pact, which helped protect the security of the US and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibited the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles (482km to 5,471km). "Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years," Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to."

"We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," he said.

The US Constitution provides that the president "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur" (Article II, section 2). Stricly speaking, the Senate does not ratify treaties—the Senate approves or rejects a resolution of ratification. If the resolution passes, then ratification takes place when the instruments of ratification are formally exchanged between the United States and the foreign power(s).

Denunciation and withdrawal are used interchangeably to refer to a unilateral act by which a state that is a party to a treaty ends its adherence to that treaty. Under Article XIV of the INF Treaty " Each Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to withdraw to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from this Treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests."

The US Constitution is silent about how treaties might be terminated. Precedent strongly suggests that denunciation is at the discretion of the President alone, without Congressional involvement.

President George W. Bush's unilateral denunciation of the 1972 ABM Treaty prompted a lawsuit, Kucinich v. Bush, in which members of the House of Representatives challenged the constitutionality of the denunciation on grounds that the president may not terminate a treaty without congressional approval. The Federal District Court declined to rule on the merits of the case, which was dismissed the case as a nonjusticiable political question.

Germany voiced concern over the consequences Trump's decision to pull out of the INF Treaty will have on security in Europe. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the US decision is "regrettable" and that it "raises difficult questions for us and Europe." He added that the over 30-year-old treaty is "an important pillar of our European security architecture." In a separate statement, the German government also emphasized that despite repeatedly urging Moscow to clear up allegations that it has violated the treaty, Russia had not yet done so.

The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unidentified "diplomatic source" in Brussels as saying Trump's statement has "an election context." The source was quoted as saying "Just days before the elections to Congress, he wants to show his electorate that he can make decisions that will upset the president of Russia". The pro-Kremlin tabloid website Argumenty Nedeli quoted an unidentified "high-ranking Russian diplomatic-military source" as saying that Trump's statement was a ploy to get the upper hand in talks with Russia on nuclear issues. "The business president is simply raising the stakes before negotiations like he always does," the source said. "Now a banal exchange of concessions both by us and by the Americans will begin."

Thomas Graham, former specialist on Russia for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, told the daily Kommersant that the withdrawal indications could just mean that Bolton, who has long opposed any arms-control treaties with Russia, has caught the president's ear. "Only time will tell if this decision is final," he said. "In the administration there are high-ranking figures who support the treaty and who would like to continue working with Russia to regulate contentious issues."

The Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty was signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev on December 8, 1987. The INF Treaty eliminated 867 American an 1836 Soviet missiles from NATO and Warsaw Pact arsenals by the end of 1991 with intrusive verification measures to be employed over the following decade. The treaty was hailed as the most important arms control agreement in the cold war era, representing tne first negotiated reversal of the Soviet buildup of nuclear weapons.

The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, also known as the INF Treaty, required the destruction of U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles (“GLBMs” and “GLCMs”) with a range capability between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and their associated launchers, support structures, and equipment, within three years after the Treaty entered into force in 1987. At the time it was signed, the Treaty’s verification regime was the most detailed and stringent in the history of nuclear arms control.

The INF Treaty was designed to eliminate all INF Treaty-prohibited systems in a short time span, and to ensure compliance with the total ban on the possession, production, and flight-testing of such systems. GLBMs and GLCMs were acknowledged to be destabilizing to Cold War European and Asian stability, and had the potential to precipitate and/or escalate a nuclear war between the East and West. The INF Treaty is of unlimited duration.

The United States eliminated its last GLCM and GLBM covered under the INF Treaty in late April and early May 1991. The Soviet Union eliminated its last declared SS-20 GLBM in May 1991. A total of 2,692 missiles were eliminated.

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Page last modified: 10-12-2018 18:55:01 ZULU