Unpredictable consequences

Friday, 2019-08-09 16:31:48
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Both the US and Russia put an end to the validity of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
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NDO - Once regarded as the greatest success in arms control efforts during the Cold War, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was cancelled by signatories. The fact that both the US and Russia put an end to the validity of this document has created a dangerous effect, shaking global security commitments.

August 2, 2019 marked the collapse of the INF, after the US officially withdrew and Russia also terminated the validity of this historic treaty. The INF was signed by the US and Soviet leaders on December 8, 1987 and officially came into effect on June 1, 1988, whereby the two sides pledged not to produce, test or deploy medium and short range ballistic and cruise missiles. INF was described as the first “shield” for European security protection when it completely eliminated nuclear missiles capable of performing destructive attacks across the entire continent in less than six minutes, as the attacked territory is almost without a chance of being able respond in time. After signing, both Russia and the US destroyed more than 2,600 medium and short range missiles, contributing positively to promoting arms control in the world.

For the past few years, the US and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of violating the treaty, but still maintained their commitments, partly limiting dangerous threats. Controversy over this issue peaked, when, in October 2018, Trump accused Russia of violating the INF by manufacturing the Novator 9M729 missile. Two months later, the White House boss announced that he would withdraw from the INF if Moscow did not return to comply with the obligations within 60 days (as of February 2, 2019). However, Russia insisted on not destroying the missile, citing no violation of the INF.

Close US allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are not bound by the rules of INF. Moscow, therefore, became more cautious, as NATO continued to expand its military presence to the east, close to the Russian border.

Terminating the INF implementation, but Russia stressed, if the US does not deploy medium-range missiles in some areas, Russia will do the same. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for urgent arms control talks to prevent a chaotic arms race following the treaty’s demise. He also said that Russia would only deploy new intermediate-range missiles if the US does.

Seemingly uninterested in the reaction from Russia, just a day after Washington officially withdrew from a landmark arms control treaty with Russia, Pentagon chief Mark Esper said that the US was considering placing new medium-range conventional weapons in Asia now that Washington is no longer bound by the INF.

The demise of US-Russia missile treaty has sparked concerns of a domino effect. A series of regional and global security structures are at risk of being broken, such as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Citing that the ability to develop weapons is significantly limited due to constraints from treaties, the US does not hide its desire to escape the “old” treaties. Washington stated that it has not yet intended to renew the START, also known as START-3, which will expire in February, 2021. The world is now concerned about a new arms race that could exacerbate the global strategic imbalance, because not only Russia and the US are involved, but other great powers that are trying to assert their position would be dragged into this race.

In the face of unpredictable consequences from the collapse of the INF, countries have become more cautious with military and security activities. A number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region denied that the US is planning to deploy ground-based missiles on their territory. NATO members in Europe are also not eager to deploy large military projects to deal with Russia.

As part of the agreements and treaties on arms disarmament, there faces many challenges, it is required that more efforts are made from countries around the world, especially military powers to ensure the global stability and strategic security.