The US has announced intent to dismiss the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on October 20, 2018.This decision indicates that great powers are investing enormously in modernizing their military capabilities. The Soviet Union and the US signed the INF treaty in December 1987. In this treaty the US and Soviet Union agreed they would ban ground ballistic and cruise missile with ranges between 500 to 5500 kilometres (300 to 3400miles). This ban would be applied to conventional and nuclear warheads, but would not to sea- based and air delivered missiles.
The article III of the treaty listed the US and Soviet intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles that present at the time of treaty signing. This list included the SS-20 intermediate-range missile, and the SS-4 and the SS-5 shorter-range missiles of the Soviet Union. The list of prohibited missiles included the new Pershing II ballistic arsenals and ground-launched cruise arsenals along with several hundred older Pershing I missiles that were in storage in Europe for the US. Both states demolished 2692 missiles, which were deployed in Europe in compliance with the INF treaty. The launchers connected with the controlled missiles were also to be eliminated.
Apparently, the US withdrawal from the treaty in October 2018, is a response to Russia’s INF Violation. Realistically, it is not the only reason because the US is more concerned about China’s growing intermediate-range and shorter-range missile capabilities, which, according to US data, are approximately half the total number of their nuclear missile carriers. The US former commander, Adam Harry Harris, said in March that the US has no ground-based capability that can threaten China due to its rigid adherence to the INF treaty.
The US knows that Russia and China, meanwhile, both countries have long since signed joint documents in which they agree not to use nuclear weapons against each other and adhere to the principles of peaceful coexistence in general. In fact, the US wants to bring new states, particularly China in the INF treaty through pressurizing Russia because it perceives the threat from China. According to some experts INF constrained the Washington’s ability to counter its rival nuclear states as China and nuclear aspirants like Iran.
The dilemma is that Moscow is not only state which is violating the treaty, but the US is also not complying. For example, if Moscow developed two battalions of the SSC-8 cruise and shifted first battalion from the test site to an operational base in the state and second is still located at Moscow’s missile site. The US is also operating different types of aerial vehicles, drones to do surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance missions. Some drones have been prepared to bear precision-guided weapons to attack ground targets. While, the sizes and ranges of the US drones are different as some of them can deliver weapons and some of them can fly to ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. The US not only blames Russia, but Moscow also claims that US armed drones infringe the INF treaty because they are related to the ground-launched cruise missile which is banned with the treaty’s definition.
According to the INF treaty that signatory states “have the right to withdraw from this treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have endanger its supreme interests.” Although, according to the US Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul J. Selva violation of treaty would not give military benefits to Russia in Europe given the location of the specific arsenals and deployment. However, the US and Russia now both are spending vast sums of money into upgrading strategic bombers, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and shiny new objects like hypersonic glide vehicles and anti-satellite systems.
The US decision of withdrawing from the INF treaty is the part of the its strategy to withdraw from all those international agreements that put equal obligations on it and make fragile its concept of its own exceptionalism. While, a breakdown of the INF Treaty would nourish bilateral distrust and ruin the other important nuclear arms treaties, such as the New Start Treaty, which is up for renewal in 2021. The violation of the INF treaty by two strong nuclear power states would not only encourage an arms race between both states, but push other countries to acquire nuclear weapon for their supreme interests.