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'A Colossal Mistake': Experts Sound the Alarm After Trump Plans to Ditch Nuclear Arms Control Treaty With Russia

October 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

The move “would be reckless and stupid.”

Concerns are mounting after President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday that he will withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia following reports that National Security Adviser John Bolton had been pushing the plan behind closed doors despite warnings from experts that ditching the agreement “would be reckless and stupid.”

The Guardian had reported Friday that Bolton and an ally in the White House have been working to convince members of the administration to support the United States withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) on the grounds that Russia is violating it. Nuclear arms control experts and others rapidly responded with alarm. Many agreed that Russia's alleged violation “merits a strong response” but noted a withdrawal could alienate European allies and raise the chances of armed conflict.

The president's comments on Saturday spurred more alarm, with Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association calling the looming withdrawal “an epic mistake.”

An epic mistake. U.S. withdrawal from #INF removes all constraints on RF deployment illegal 9M729 missile, increasing risk to Europe; shifts blame from Russia to Trump; opens door to arms race. “Trump says US will pull out of intermediate range nuke pact” https://t.co/Y2LE8Hwkfj pic.twitter.com/Wq7VYQTCcs

— Daryl G Kimball (@DarylGKimball) October 20, 2018

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey agreed. ”This is a colossal mistake,” he told the Guardian. “I doubt very much that the U.S. will deploy much that would have been prohibited by the treaty. Russia, though, will go gangbusters.”

“By declaring he will leave the INF Treaty, President Trump has shown himself to be a demolition man who has no ability to build real security,” responded Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. ”Instead, by blowing up nuclear treaties he is taking the U.S. down a trillion dollar road to a new nuclear arms race.” 

Journalist Glenn Greenwald tied the update to broader narratives about the Trump administration's relationship with Russia, and in particular President Vladimir Putin:

This is a major (and dangerous) provocation toward Russia …read more


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