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South Coast Nuclear Disarmament Organization Concerned Key Missile Treaty On Verge Of Collapse

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan Sign INF Treaty in 1987

It’s a treaty credited with the removal, and the destruction of thousands of American and Russian nuclear weapons, but a South Coast peace group fears it is on the edge of collapse. 

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1987 eliminated land-based ballistic and cruise missiles and launchers with ranges of 310–620 miles, and intermediate range missiles as well.

By May 1991, more than 2600 missiles were eliminated.

Rick Wayman is Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which has been working on nuclear disarmament for decades. He says the treaty was considered especially significant for Europe, where NATO nations felt threatened by Soviet intermediate range missiles.

But, the treaty has had a rocky path the last five years, with the U.S. accusing Russia of violating the treaty, and the Russian countering with claims the U.S. is also in violation. Wayman says both governments have been throwing out accusations and denials. Now, the whole deal now appears to be unraveling, setting the stage for a new arms race.

The Trump Administration announced the U.S. is stepping away from its obligations under the treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says America is pulling out because of the Russian violations, and also because it doesn’t apply to other nations like China.

Officials with the Santa Barbara based disarmament group says the situation is opening the door to a dangerous new arms race. Wayman says there is no questions there were issues with the treaty, especially the fact it only applied to the U.S. and Russia. But he says it was still a framework to start with to work out issues.

Still, he’s optimistic. He believes Congress has the ability to stop a new nuclear arms race by refusing to fund new weapons development. And on a broader scale, he is hopeful that we can, and will see a resumption of efforts to move towards, and instead of away from nuclear disarmament.