A new nu­clear arms race has be­gun. The US is to blame

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY MIKHAIL GORBACHEV

Over 30 years ago, Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and I signed in Wash­ing­ton the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elim­i­na­tion of in­ter­me­di­ate- and short­er­range mis­siles. For the first time in his­tory, two classes of nu­clear weapons were to be elim­i­nated and de­stroyed.

This was a first step. It was fol­lowed in 1991 by the Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty, which the Soviet Union signed with Presi- dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, our agree­ment on rad­i­cal cuts in tac­ti­cal nu­clear arms, and the New START treaty, signed by the pres­i­dents of Rus­sia and the United States in 2010.

There are still too many nu­clear weapons in the world, but the Amer­i­can and Rus­sian ar­se­nals are now a frac­tion of what they were dur­ing the Cold War. At the Nu­clear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Re­view Con­fer­ence in 2015, Rus­sia and the United States re­ported to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that 85 per­cent of those ar­se­nals had been de­com­mis­sioned and, for the most part, de­stroyed.

To­day, this tremen­dous ac­com­plish­ment, of which our two na­tions can be right­fully proud, is in jeop­ardy. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced last week the United States’ plan to with­draw from the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces (INF) Treaty and his coun­try’s in­ten­tion to build up nu­clear arms.

I am be­ing asked whether I feel bit­ter watch­ing the demise of what I worked so hard to achieve. But this is not a per­sonal mat­ter. Much more is at stake.

A new arms race has been an­nounced. The INF Treaty is not the first vic­tim of the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of world af­fairs. In 2002, the United States with­drew from the Anti-bal­lis­tic Mis­sile Treaty; this year, from the Iran nu­clear deal. Mil­i­tary ex­pen­di­tures have soared to as­tro­nom­i­cal lev­els and keep ris­ing.

As a pre­text for the with­drawal from the INF Treaty, the United States in­voked Rus­sia’s al­leged vi­o­la­tions of some of the treaty’s pro­vi­sions. Rus­sia has raised sim­i­lar con­cerns re­gard­ing Amer­i­can com­pli­ance, at the same time propos­ing to dis­cuss the is­sues at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to find a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able so­lu­tion. But over the past few years, the United States has been avoid­ing such dis­cus­sion. I think it is now clear why.

With enough po­lit­i­cal will, any prob­lems of com­pli­ance with the ex­ist­ing treaties could be re­solved. But as we have seen dur­ing the past two years, the pres­i­dent of the United States has a very dif­fer­ent pur­pose in mind. It is to re­lease the United States from any obli­ga­tions, any con­straints, and not just re­gard­ing nu­clear mis­siles.

Yet I am con­vinced that those who hope to ben­e­fit from a global free-for-all are deeply mis­taken. There will be no win­ner in a “war of all against all” – par­tic­u­larly if it ends in a nu­clear war. And that is a pos­si­bil­ity that can­not be ruled out.

Is it too late to re­turn to dia­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions? I don’t want to lose hope. I hope that Rus­sia will take a firm but bal­anced stand. I hope that Amer­ica’s al­lies will, upon sober re­flec­tion, refuse to be launch­pads for new Amer­i­can mis­siles. I hope the United Na­tions, and par­tic­u­larly mem­bers of its Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, vested by the United Na­tions Char­ter with pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity for main­tain­ing in­ter­na­tional peace and se­cu­rity, will take re­spon­si­ble ac­tion.

Faced with this dire threat to peace, we are not help­less. We must not re­sign, we must not sur­ren­der.

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