Trump decides to break yet another treaty — and this time it could spark a new nuclear arms race.
On Friday morning, the Trump administration announced the United States will withdraw from a major nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will no longer comply with the agreement and will initiate the withdrawal process, which takes six months.
The Washington Post calls the treaty, formally known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a "cornerstone Cold War agreement," noting that Trump's actions elevate "fears of a new nuclear arms race."
Backing out of this agreement will make "everything more dangerous," former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, told CNN.
The INF treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, and was meant to prevent a surprise nuclear strike by forcing both countries to eliminate all of their nuclear missiles that had a short enough range (500 to 5,500 km) to be launched without early warning.
The United States alleges Russia has broken the treaty. While European allies agree Russia has not lived up to their end of the bargain, NATO did not endorse Trump's previous threats to withdraw from the treaty, according to the New York Times.
The Trump administration has been itching to ditch the treaty for months, and word leaked in October 2018 that they were likely going to move forward with the plan.
At that time, Michael Carpenter, a foreign policy adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, said Trump would be "handing Vladimir Putin a gift" if he did so.
Trump is now inviting a level of global instability the world has not seen in decades.
"We are heading into a direction we have not been in in 40 years: no arms control limits or rules that we are both following and that is very dangerous," Lynn Rusten, a senior official at the National Security Council during President Obama's administration and current vice president at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, told CNN.
In his short, unpopular tenure, Trump has made a habit of isolating the United States from global pacts.
Over the past two years, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, ditched the multi-country Iran nuclear agreement, and snubbed a dozen countries working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Trump is often a global laughing stock, seemingly doing his best to alienate allies and coddle adversaries. Unfortunately, his increasingly reckless tactics are putting America and our global allies at very serious risk.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.