US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the United States will leave a Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.
The INF treaty forced both countries to eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between approximately 300 and 3,400 miles. While US found a work around to the treaty by developing weapons from Naval platforms, Russians have been experimenting at the ranges of 290 Miles and 3500 miles.
“We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons” unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, Trump said on Saturday. While blaming Russians for the for the termination, he also included China – a non-signatory to the treaty as reason.
We believe that is was Novator 9M729 (SSC-8) that broke the treaty’s back. The missile is believed to have range between 300 miles and 3400 miles. The Russian usage of Kalibr missiles from naval platforms in Syrian war may have also negated the usefulness of the treaty.
Then there is the Chinese issue. The geopolitics has changes since 1987, when the treaty was signed. For the American eagle the threat is greater from Chinse Dragon than the Russian Bear. The US has been greatly limited by this treaty to counter the PLA threat in Pacific.
The PLA’s missile regiments include almost 90% of inventory that have range prohibited by the treaty for US.
For the US – the treaty is now just a relic pf past that it need not worry about, for Russians, it gives them a breather. The only loosing countries with abolition of this treaty will be the European powers, which will now rush to an arms race for missile shield against potential Russian invasion.