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Top senators slam Trump’s INF treaty pullout, call it ‘gift to Russia’

Top senators slam Trump’s INF treaty pullout, call it ‘gift to Russia’
A trio of top Senators criticized Donald Trump’s decision to walk away from the 1987 INF treaty, saying the move, which lacks “strategic forethought,” would spell the end of other arms control treaties.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the milestone Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) came out of the blue for American lawmakers – senators Bob Menendez, Jack Reed, and Mark Warner, who wrote an open letter to the US president.

There were multiple opportunities to explain the rationale behind the pullout, but it turns out that the administration “provided no indication that a decision to withdraw was even imminent,” the letter reads.

While using a conventional claim that Russia is still in violation of the INF, the Senators insisted the hasty decision will draw consequences for the US itself. “The Administration’s sudden decision to withdraw unilaterally is a political and geostrategic gift to Russia,” they argued.

According to senators, it takes the focus away from “Russia’s transgressions and malign behavior” and instead provides a narrative that the United States “is willing to shred our commitments unilaterally without any strategic alternative.”

They also stated that “the lack of strategic forethought and planning” were apparent in Trump’s decision to ditch the accord. Proceeding with this logic, the Senators suggested that Trump may take “a similarly dangerous approach and renege on other key arms control agreements,” such as the newest edition of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START.

The 2010 treaty, widely seen as a major policy success by then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, resulted in the reduction of Russian and American nuclear arsenals by half. Now, sinking this treaty by the Trump administration “would only serve to diminish international security further.”

Also on rt.com ‘Disastrous decision’: Berlin warns Trump against dismantling INF deal with Russia

The Senators were not alone in their criticisms of ditching the INF deal. The US’ closest allies stoked fears that the American withdrawal would unleash an all-out nuclear arms race with Russia. Germany, for instance, called dismantling the accord “devastating” and promised to do its utmost to save it.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who put his signature under the treaty back in 1987, noted: “it can’t be that hard to understand that discarding such agreements ‘is narrow-minded,’ as they say.”

The 30-year-old arms control agreement banned possession and development of short and mid-range missiles. It was the first international accord prohibiting an entire class of weapons systems. In addition, two protocols to the treaty provided ground for first-hand inspections of the other nation’s destruction of its missiles.

Over the past years, the US has been claiming that Russia has been violating the INF by building missiles it prohibits. Moscow has refuted the allegations and in turn accused the US of non-compliance, arguing that it can convert the missile defense sites in Eastern Europe into offensive intermediate-range launchers.

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