N-treaty collapse makes world less safer - GulfToday

N-treaty collapse makes world less safer


Mike Pompeo. File

The collapse of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia has fuelled fears of a new arms race and made the world a more dangerous place to live in.

It is hugely disappointing that the two major powers, instead of resolving their differences through sincere dialogue, chose a path that puts the entire world at risk.

The Intermediate-Range nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), negotiated by then US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, had a noble goal of eliminating land-based short-range and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles by both countries.

Under the deal, missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers were eliminated. That paved the way for the mothballing of Russian SS-20 missiles and American Pershing missiles deployed in Europe.

For years, Washington has accused Russia of developing a new type of missile, the 9M729, which it says violates the treaty — claims that NATO has backed up.

The missile has a range of about 1,500 kilometres, according to NATO, though Moscow says it can only travel 480 kilometres.

Nuclear weapons are the most dangerous enemies of humanity. Nuke weapons have the potential to destroy an entire city killing millions, cause inconceivable damage to environment and ruin the lives of future generations with long-term catastrophic effects.

The blame game has begun too.

Washington has placed the responsibility firmly on Moscow over the demise of the treaty with  President Donald Trump insisting any new disarmament pact would now also need China to come on board.

Russia, on its part, has accused the US of making a “serious mistake” in turning its back on the INF, which the United Nations said had played a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability for more than three decades.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement confirming Washington’s formal withdrawal, minutes after Russia also pronounced the agreement void.

Russia’s suggestion of a moratorium was also swiftly rebuffed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg as not credible while saying the 29-country transatlantic alliance did not want to see a renewed battle for military supremacy.

In another worrisome development, Trump’s new defence secretary Mark Esper has declared that the US has already begun work to develop mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.

The INF pact had been widely proclaimed as a beacon of hope.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres points out, in the current deteriorating international security environment, previously-agreed arms control and disarmament agreements are increasingly under threat.

Since its entry-into-force on June 1, 1988, the Cold War-era arms control contributed tangibly to the maintenance of peace and stability internationally and especially in Europe, playing an important role in reducing risk, building confidence and helping to bring the Cold War to an end.

There is no alternative to dialogue on nuclear arms control. Risk-reduction measures, including transparency in nuclear-weapon programmes and further cut in all types of nuclear weapons is the best way forward. For that, leaders need to keep the dialogue process alive.

Guterres is correct in insisting on the need to avoid destabilising developments and to urgently seek agreement on a new common path for international arms control.

Russia and the US should extend New START and undertake negotiations on further arms control measures.

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