Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Collapse of nuclear treaty starts arms race

Collapse of nuclear treaty starts arms race

The recent decision by the United States to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, and a corresponding move by Russian Federation, are raising security concerns in East Asia, where Japan, a long-time ally of the USA, faces off against China and North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in early December that Washington would give Moscow 60 days to return to compliance before it gave formal notice of withdrawal, with actual withdrawal taking place six months later.

When the United States unveiled its new nuclear policy in February 2018, it warned that it planned to buy two new weapons: a new type of low-power nuclear missile to be launched from a submarine, and a new type of nuclear cruise missile that would violate the INF deal.

The government on Monday endorsed the US decision to withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russian Federation, but stressed that the move is seen as "undesirable".

The US withdrawal also came as a shake up for Europe.

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament at the Arms Control Association, said Thursday that the U.S. had failed to exhaust diplomatic options to save the treaty.

That agreement, which caps the number of nuclear warheads held by Washington and Moscow, expires in 2021.

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The US has said a new Russian medium-range missile system breaches the INF Treaty and on Saturday President Donald Trump said the country was suspending its obligations under the treaty - a move mirrored shortly after by Moscow.

Putin has argued that 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. The US has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russian Federation misrepresents its actions, Trump said.

Japan was the target of US atomic bombs at the end of World War II but now stands under that country's nuclear umbrella. Russian officials claimed the USA assertions about the alleged breach of the pact by Moscow were meant to shift the blame for the pact's demise to Russia.

China urged the United States on Saturday to resolve its differences with Russian Federation through dialogue. "What is imperative at the moment is to uphold and implement the existing treaty instead of creating a new one", he said on Saturday. The launchers are "absolutely capable" of carrying mid-range Tomahawk missiles and that can be done easily and "without modification".

About 90 percent of China's missiles are said to have intermediate ranges as the country is not party to the INF treaty.

Putin emphasised that such new weapons won't be deployed unless the United States does so first. The treaty banned all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 300 to 3,500 miles.

"A new era has begun, an era when the United States decides to move towards destroying the entire arms control system, which is regrettable", Moscow's top diplomat said on Monday, Russia's Tass news agency reported.

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