Trump calls out Russian cheating on nuke treaty
The president said he would pull the United States out of a nuclear arms treaty signed with the then-Soviet Union in 1987. The reason: the Russians are not complying with the treaty's terms:
Trump said Moscow had violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and he would halt the agreement.
"We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out," Trump said when leaving a rally in Nevada Saturday afternoon. He said the U.S. would pull out "and then we are going to develop the weapons” unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, though China isn't currently a party of the agreement.
"Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” the president said. "And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to."
While the president's statement caused the anti-White House crowd to cluck and scold, the Congressional Research Service notes questions and concerns about Russian cheating on the arms agreement go back to at least the Obama administration:
The Obama Administration raised its concerns about Russian compliance with the INF Treaty in a number of meetings since 2013. These meetings made little progress because Russia continued to deny that it had violated the treaty. In October 2016, the United States called a meeting of the Special Verification Commission, which was established by the INF Treaty to address compliance concerns. During this meeting, in mid-November, both sides raised their concerns, but they failed to make any progress in resolving them. A second SVC meeting was held in December 2017. The United States has also begun to consider a number of military responses, which might include new land-based INF-range systems or new sea-launched cruise missiles, both to provide Russia with an incentive to reach a resolution and to provide the United States with options for future programs if Russia eventually deploys new missiles and the treaty regime collapses. It might also suspend or withdraw from arms control agreements, although several analysts have noted that this might harm U.S. security interests, as it would remove all constraints on Russia’s nuclear forces.
The Trump Administration conducted an extensive review of the INF Treaty during 2017 to assess the potential security implications of Russia’s violation and to determine how the United States would respond going forward. On December 8, 2017—the 30th anniversary of the date when the treaty was signed—the Administration announced that the United States would implement an integrated response that included diplomatic, military, and economic measures. Congress is likely to continue to conduct oversight hearings on this issue, and to receive briefings on the status of Russia’s cruise missile program. It may also consider legislation authorizing U.S. military responses and supporting alternative diplomatic approaches.
So...not a new concern. That the president has called the Kremlin on its years of avoidance and cheating, then, brings public what the government has long known in private. And it shows once again the Russians are not now, and have never been, our friends, allies, or partners. They remain committed adversaries of the West, and we must treat them accordingly.