Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Ideology over Interest? Trump's Costly INF Decision.

| Oct. 26, 2018

One of the puzzling aspects of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the INF agreement is that there is no reason to take this step now. On the contrary, at present US withdrawal offers few benefits and solves no significant security problem, while raising some potential costs and obvious disadvantages. Russia has been on notice since 2013 that Washington regards Moscow's ground-launched cruise missile program to be an unacceptable violation of the INF agreement, and the Kremlin can have no doubt that its offending program is subjected to sustained scrutiny by the United States and NATO. If Russia were to deploy a substantial force of non-compliant cruise missiles, this would certainly (and appropriately) spell the end of the treaty and produce a countervailing reaction from NATO. So far, however, Russia has mostly confined itself to testing the ground-launched cruise missiles that are believed, in Washington and Brussels, to have a range that exceeds the treaty limit. Only a tiny and strategically insignificant number of launchers are reported to have been deployed, and these add nothing meaningful to Russia's ability to threaten targets in Europe (or elsewhere)....

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For Academic Citation:

Miller, Steven E."Ideology over Interest? Trump's Costly INF Decision." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 26, 2018.