REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
- The US and Russia both just backed out of a landmark Cold War treaty that eliminated thousands of land-based nuclear missiles from the arsenals of both countries.
- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF for short, was designed to last for an "unlimited duration."
- Both Russia and the US have expressed doubts that the other side is really keeping its end of the bargain.
- Since 2014, the US has suspected that Russia is violating the ban on ground-launched missiles, and the US is at work on new nukes in Texas.
- But perhaps an even bigger reason that the US has decided to back out of the nuclear deal now is because of a growing nuclear threat from China, a country that’s not subject to the INF ban.
The US just announced it’s backing out of a Cold War deal that was meant to last forever, and now Russia is too.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made official what the Trump Administration has been hinting at for months: the US is done with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The treaty was signed at the end of the Cold War, and has pushed both countries to destroy thousands of nukes over the years, as they came into compliance with its ban on land-based short- and medium- range ballistic and cruise missiles.
Last December, Pompeo gave Russia a 60-day ultimatum to start complying with the treaty, and now that time is up.
"Russia has refused to take any steps to return real and verifiable compliance over these 60 days," Pompeo said Friday. "When an agreement is so brazenly disregarded and our security is so openly threatened, we must respond."
The announcement means that in six months, the US will no longer be bound by any of the treaty’s rules.
After the US announced the backout on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to Russian TV on Saturday and said since the US is backing out, Russia will do so too.
"The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well," he said.
Here’s what’s at stake:
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was the result of years of negotiation between the US and Russia during the Cold War. US President Richard Nixon and Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev spent years drafting the plan, which aimed to eliminate all land-based missiles that travel anywhere from 300 miles to over 3,400 miles.
Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov
The two leaders finally put pen to paper on December 8, 1987 in the White House.
Corbis via Getty Images
By summer 1991, just two and a half years later, the two sides had destroyed some 2,700 missiles.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Source: Brookings Institution
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