Wash­ing­ton should re­think treaty with­drawal threat

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

The United States set a dead­line of 60 days for Rus­sia to com­ply with the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty on Tues­day, with US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo is­su­ing a warn­ing at NATO talks in Brus­sels that Wash­ing­ton would ac­ti­vate a six-month no­tice pe­riod for leav­ing the pact un­less Rus­sia “re­turns to full and ver­i­fi­able com­pli­ance”.

Af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened the US with­drawal from the INF deal in Oc­to­ber, the lat­est US ul­ti­ma­tum shows Wash­ing­ton is still ea­ger to ex­ert more strate­gic pres­sure on Moscow.

Wash­ing­ton has re­peat­edly ac­cused Moscow of be­ing in vi­o­la­tion and non­com­pli­ance of the INF Treaty, while Moscow has al­ways de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions.

Con­sid­er­ing that the INF Treaty has been a cor­ner­stone of main­tain­ing strate­gic equi­lib­rium be­tween the US and Rus­sia, a uni­lat­eral with­drawal by the US would no doubt deepen con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia and would likely usher in a new Cold War.

Un­der the back­drop of es­ca­lated ten­sions be­tween Rus­sia and Ukraine over the Sea of Azov, the prospect of the US leav­ing the INF pact would also deal a heavy blow to the se­cu­rity out­look of Europe, mak­ing it the front­line for the con­fronta­tion be­tween the US and Rus­sia.

The US’ lat­est de­ci­sion is an­other man­i­fes­ta­tion of its uni­lat­er­al­ist ten­den­cies un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion. In May, the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced its de­ci­sion to with­draw from an­other key nu­clear agree­ment — the Ira­nian nu­clear pact, leav­ing the mul­ti­lat­eral deal in tat­ters and ex­ac­er­bat­ing ten­sions be­tween Te­heran and Wash­ing­ton.

By back-ped­al­ing on one nu­clear treaty af­ter an­other, the US aims to give it­self carte blanche to up­grade its own nu­clear ar­se­nal. Such am­bi­tions were clearly stated in the nu­clear pos­ture re­view re­vealed by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in Fe­bru­ary.

Iron­i­cally, while Wash­ing­ton is pulling out of nu­clear weapons con­trol deals, it is push­ing for an un­prece­dented rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea with the aim of get­ting that coun­try to aban­don its nu­clear de­fenses.

The US de­ci­sion to with­draw from both the INF Treaty and the Iran deal is un­likely to in­still con­fi­dence in Py­ongyang that Wash­ing­ton will honor any agree­ment.

In to­day’s world of in­ter­de­pen­dency and in­ter-re­liance, the US should know that any de­ci­sion that may im­peril other coun­tries’ se­cu­rity out­look will back­fire and un­der­mine its own se­cu­rity.

Wash­ing­ton should re­al­ize that too much would be at stake if the 1987 pact is aban­doned: It would un­der­cut the in­ter­na­tional ef­forts at nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion and trig­ger a world­wide nu­clear arms race, thus wors­en­ing the nu­clear se­cu­rity of all coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US.

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