How they see us: Tearing up nuclear treaties
The U.S. has entirely changed its nuclear posture in just four months, said Lubov Glazunova in Moskovsky Komsomolets (Russia). When U.S. national security adviser John Bolton first visited Moscow, in June, he laid the groundwork for the Helsinki summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. At that July meeting, the two leaders discussed “bridging their differences” on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The pact, signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, largely rid Europe of nukes by banning the two countries from deploying all ground-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. This week, Bolton visited Moscow again—“not to conclude agreements, but to dissolve them.” Trump, he said, believes that Russia is in breach of the INF, and the U.S. therefore will start the six-month process of withdrawing from the treaty. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described Trump’s announcement as a “very dangerous step” that would start a new arms race. But some analysts wonder whether the shock pullout is just “the typical Trumpian style of negotiation,” a radical declaration to be followed by a climbdown.
Each side accuses the other of violating the INF, said Yuri Gavrilov in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia). The U.S. says that Russia’s new 9M729 intercontinental missile is in fact a medium-range missile capable of hitting targets about 1,250 miles away. Russia, meanwhile, has concerns about multiple U.S. infractions. U.S. armed drones violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the treaty—since drones weren’t around in 1987—and the U.S. has been testing ground launches of the AGM-158, a medium-range, air-launched cruise missile. Worst of all are the U.S. missile-defense facilities in Poland and Romania, which are ostensibly meant to target incoming missiles but could be modified “in a few hours” to launch nuclear cruise missiles.
Both sides are in violation, said Denis Komarovsky in Izvestiya (Russia). But the U.S. doesn’t really care about Russia’s infraction—it’s just an excuse to get rid of a treaty Trump sees as tying America’s hands in its struggle with China for control of the Pacific. Some 90 percent of China’s missiles are short- and medium-range, and the U.S. wants the INF to die unless China joins it. Yet the complaint that the INF does not limit China is “disingenuous,” said The Japan Times (Japan) in an editorial. In a Pacific conflict, the U.S. would use sea- or air-based cruise missiles against China, and the INF doesn’t prevent the U.S. from deploying those. This is just more evidence of Trump’s determination to withdraw from all international pacts. Once he kills the INF, he will likely pull out of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which lowered the U.S.’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals by 30 percent and expires in 2021. Then we will have the terrifying prospect of a world with “no treaties constraining the nuclear weapons competition.” ■