Ex­perts: Sal­vage nu­clear treaty

Let­ters ask Trump to re­think ex­it­ing arms-con­trol pact

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Rick Glad­stone of The New York Times; and by staff mem­bers of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Alarmed at what they see as dis­in­te­grat­ing curbs on nu­clear weapons, a bi­par­ti­san ar­ray of Amer­i­can non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ex­perts has urged Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to sal­vage a Cold War-era treaty with Rus­sia that he has vowed to scrap.

In let­ters sent to the White House this week that were seen by The New York Times, the ex­perts said the pact, the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty, had re­duced the risk of nu­clear war.

De­spite the treaty’s flaws, they said, the United States should work to fix the ac­cord, not walk away from it.

“The [In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces] Treaty has pre­vented the unchecked de­ploy­ment of nu­clear mis­siles in Europe,” stated one of the let­ters, sent Wed­nes­day to the White House.

It was signed by more than a dozen promi­nent fig­ures in arms con­trol, in­clud­ing for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Ge­orge P. Shultz and for­mer Sens. Richard Lu­gar and Sam Nunn.

An­other let­ter, dated Tues­day and sent by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Lead­ers, a group of for­mer high-level mil­i­tary of­fi­cers, said: “The [In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces] Treaty is a be­drock to our cur­rent arms con­trol regime and serves rather than ham­pers Amer­i­can in­ter­ests.”

There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on the let­ters.

The treaty’s fate may come up this week­end if Trump sees Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia dur­ing a me­mo­rial event in France cel­e­brat­ing the cen­ten­nial of the end of World War I.

But there have been con­flict­ing ac­counts from the White House and the Krem­lin on whether the two will even meet.

Putin and his sub­or­di­nates have warned of a new arms race should Trump make good on his pledge to re­nounce the ac­cord. It would be the first time Trump has scrapped an arms-con­trol treaty, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials have said.

Many Euro­pean lead­ers also have ob­jected to Trump’s plan.

Trump and his hard­line aides, par­tic­u­larly John Bolton, the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, have long dis­par­aged the treaty, as­sert­ing that Rus­sia has cheated on its terms and that it should in­clude China, which is not a sig­na­tory.

The treaty ended a cri­sis of the 1980s that had come to be seen as a hair-trig­ger for a nu­clear war. The Soviet Union had de­ployed a mis­sile in Europe called the SS-20, ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing three nu­clear war­heads. The United States had de­ployed cruise and Per­sh­ing II mis­siles. All had the ca­pa­bil­ity of reach­ing tar­gets in as lit­tle as 10 min­utes.

The Sovi­ets were par­tic­u­larly fear­ful of a strike that could oblit­er­ate them be­fore they could re­tal­i­ate, fur­ther rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a mis­take or mis­un­der­stand­ing that could lead to an un­speak­able out­come.

Un­der the treaty signed in 1987 by Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gor­bachev, all land­based cruise or bal­lis­tic mis­siles with ranges of be­tween 311 and 3,420 miles were pro­hib­ited.

Gor­bachev said Thurs­day that ur­gent ef­forts must be taken to pre­vent a new arms race.

Gor­bachev, 87, told re­porters that Moscow and Wash­ing­ton should fo­cus on mend­ing their rift and im­prov­ing their re­la­tion­ship, one he de­scribed as the most im­por­tant in the world.

He said “I hope that the arms race could be stopped and we could con­tinue the nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment” that he and Rea­gan ini­ti­ated.

He was speak­ing af­ter at­tend­ing the Moscow pre­mier of a film made by Werner Her­zog based on their con­ver­sa­tions.

In a sep­a­rate state­ment is­sued Thurs­day, Gor­bachev voiced con­cern about “at­tempts to take the world back into the past,” warn­ing that a new twist of the arms race poses the great­est dan­ger.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.