Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Trump’s Silence on Russian Missiles Makes America Less Safe

| Mar. 07, 2017

Russia presents security challenges to the United States and its allies for which the Trump administration has yet to indicate any kind of a policy direction or goals. In the nuclear arena, none of these challenges are more acute than Russia’s ongoing violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty. That Treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, banned the Soviet Union and the United States from having or testing ground-launched missiles with ranges between 312 and 3,428 miles.

The INF Treaty and I kind of grew up together (yes, I am a geek and track my childhood, in part, through arms control agreements). In the 1970s, Russia deployed new nuclear-tipped missiles in Warsaw Pact states that could hit all of Europe. President Jimmy Carter and NATO responded with the dual-track decision, deploying American missiles in NATO states that could hit Russia, some in 15 minutes or less, while simultaneously seeking to negotiate elimination of such weapons on both sides. These missiles were highly destabilizing — they could reach London from Moscow in minutes, creating crisis instability and compressing decision times.

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For Academic Citation: Wolfsthal, Jon.“Trump’s Silence on Russian Missiles Makes America Less Safe.” Foreign Policy, March 7, 2017.

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