David Bercuson: Fear of China is what killed this Cold War treaty

David Bercuson: Fear of China is what killed this Cold War treaty

Russian Federation released satellite images to prove the United States violated Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty two years back, after the US President Donald Trump recently announced that they are pulling out of the arms control agreement.

The NATO ally has supported the USA decision to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, agreeing with Washington that a new Russian missile system violated the 1987 pact, but called for a new accord in its place.

Trump said that on Saturday, the USA will "suspend its obligations" under the treaty, meaning it will be freed from its constraints, including the testing and deployment of missiles banned by the pact.

Russia has long denied allegations from the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that a new missile in the Russian arsenal, the SSC-8, violates the terms of the INF for having a maximum range greater than 310 miles.

Shoigu said Tuesday that such mid-range missiles must now be designed, insisting that Russian Federation take "tit-for-tat measures". At the end of last week, the Trump administration announced it would withdraw from the decades-old pact, accusing Moscow of violating its terms. This week the United States announced that it is giving six months notice of withdrawal from the agreement signed in 1987 by United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Putin has argued it makes no sense for Russian Federation to deploy a ground-based cruise missile violating the treaty because it has such weapons on ships and aircraft, which aren't banned by the pact.

But Moscow has alleged that the US has failed to provide any evidence of how it has violated the agreement. The US responded by saying it would withdraw and design its own treaty-busting missiles.

The collapse of the INF Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the United States and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the Continent.

"Leaving the INF treaty will unleash a new missile competition between the United States and Russian Federation", they said.

The mission comes as Paris looks to ensure its long-term nuclear dissuasion program, with Europe increasingly anxious about security as tensions rise between Washington and Moscow.

The US in December gave Moscow a 60-day deadline to dismantle missiles it said breached the agreement.

European nations fear the treaty's collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of USA nuclear missiles stationed on the continent.

As a ground-launched, mobile, intermediate-range cruise missile, the 9M729 system poses a direct threat to European and global security. The reports are believed to be meant to restrain the U.S.by emphasizing the performance of the latest weapon. Leaving the INF treaty would allow the Trump administration to counter the Chinese, but it's unclear how it would do that.

Over the past five years, Chinese forces have steadily consolidated and expanded their presence in the South China Sea through land reclamation efforts.

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