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Donald Trump wants the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed by President Reagan and then-future President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. There is a lot of speculation as to why we would pull out; what is the purpose?
This treaty was created to take out all short and medium range nuclear missiles that could reach 310-3,420 miles, (500 to 5,500 kilometers). To put that in perspective, the longest route from coast to coast across the U.S. is 3,527 miles according, to Sprott's Gateway. Over 2,000 missiles were destroyed by the early 90s because of the treaty. This was significant to the ending of the Cold War. Why are we pulling out?
President Trump said, "Russia has violated the agreement... They've been violating it for many years." He would like to build other weapons that would not be allowed because of the agreement, unless the Russians are willing to come forward and negotiate a new agreement. Is this based on a gut feeling, or does the President have legitimate proof the Russians are breaking the rules?
General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO spoke out against Russia as well. He mentioned in Brussels the U.S. was holding their end of the deal, but Russia was not. Russia tested and deployed an intermediate-range cruise missile. Russia believes that the missile they tested could not travel the distance mentioned in the treaty.
The Obama administration accused Russia of cheating the agreement in 2014 during the Ukraine Crisis. According to the New York Times, U.S. officials believed Russia was using the SSC-8 missile. It is a land-based cruise missile that goes against the agreement.
Russia claimed the Americans violated the agreement by stationing antimissile batteries in Europe. These are defensive weapons used to destroy any incoming missile within range. The Russians also believe the U.S. have been used drones that fly in boundaries that they should not be flown in. These drones go against the treaty agreements as well.
Unless a new treaty is agreed upon, the U.S. and Russia are now free to get creative when it comes to nuclear weapons. This could potentially lead to an arms race between the two countries. President Putin has responded and has not threatened any attack, but only retaliation because he knows nuclear strikes lead to one thing, annihilation. It wouldn't be for protection, but it would mean the world's super powers would have to fight to stay ahead when it comes to these new nuclear missiles.
If the U.S. were to create new weapons to try and stay ahead or stay on pace with Russia, this would be a legitimate excuse for an increase on military spending. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. planned to spend $1.2 trillion on modernizing and adding nuclear weapons to its arsenal over the next 30 years. I would not be surprised if they make some revisions to that proposal knowing this treaty could no longer be in effect.
Many things could happen down the road. As for right now the U.S. and Russia are not in attack mode, but are open to retaliation if one side were to launch. President Trump has not officially pulled us out, but it could be a scare tactic used to create something more beneficial. With the accusations of meddling with the U.S. Presidential Election in 2016 and the Ukraine Crisis still ongoing, this could be a strategic in gaining support for President Trump. He could be flexing an American muscle, showing U.S. citizens they are trying to take control of Russia. Could it be a distraction? The U.S. midterms are coming up and there will be over 400 elections. Many believe the Democrats most likely will take over the House and have a slim shot at the Senate. If the Republican majority can gain 53-54 more seats in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would rest easier. President Trump could be using this as a strategy to sway votes to Republican candidates or to lessen voter turnout, after all, what is more terrifying, nuclear threats or elections?