President Trump has recently announced that he intends to withdraw the US from the historic Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty with Russia. This is likely to result in a new nuclear arms race between the US and Russia, threatening our global security at a time when we are already facing heightened international tension. If the US reintroduces intermediate-range missiles it will attempt to place them in Europe – most likely the UK. This will put us on the front line in the event of a nuclear war between the US and Russia.
What is the INF Treaty?
The INF Treaty was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. It banned the US and the Soviet Union (subsequently Russia) from possessing ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges from 500km to 5,500km.
Since it has come into force, this treaty has ensured the destruction of nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles and played a crucial role in ending the Cold War. It is because of the INF that cruise missiles, SS20s and other such missiles were removed from Britain and across Europe, ensuring that neither superpower could conduct a nuclear war in Europe.
What are the consequences of the US’s withdrawal from the Treaty?
The US has repeatedly alleged that Russia has violated the INF Treaty and has cited this as a key reason for withdrawing from the treaty. Experts also point to alleged US violations highlighted by Russia.
Ending the Treaty edges both countries back into Cold War postures. By removing the ban, there is now nothing stopping either state from developing new missiles in this class. This marks a complete reversal of post-Cold War efforts to reduce both states’ nuclear arsenals, threatening the security of all countries.
It also poses a serious risk to the UK and Europe. If the US reintroduces intermediate-range nuclear missiles to counter what it perceives as a Russian threat, they likely to be sited in Europe. This massively increases the likelihood of a nuclear war being fought on European soil. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already stated that if European countries host US intermediate-range missiles, these countries ‘must understand that they are putting their own territory at risk of a possible counter-strike [by Russia].’
The UK government should therefore be voicing strong opposition to the US’s withdrawal from this treaty. Many European leaders have already denounced the US’s actions, and our government should do the same.
What Can You Do?
- Join CND in calling on the UK government to denounce the US’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
- You can do this by writing to your MP to urge them to sign Early Day Motion 1744 to raise this issue in parliament. To do this, click here.
- For more information on the INF and the disastrous impact that the US’s withdrawal from the treaty will have, see the latest blog post from CND’s General Secretary, Dr Kate Hudson.