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A world on nuclear hair-trigger, if USA withdraws from INF Treaty?

Would INF Withdrawal Recreate a Nuclear Hair-Trigger World?  Junk enough arms control treaties, and the Cold War balance of terror will reign once again—this time with China in the mix. Foreign Policy, BY MICHAEL HIRSH,  OCTOBER 23, 2018,  “………The INF Treaty, signed in 1987, was a keystone of those early efforts to ease tensions. It sought to end the hair-trigger calculus embedded in the missiles that ringed the perimeter of the Soviet bloc, giving both sides scant minutes of warning before Armageddon. The INF Treaty was, as then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan said, the first nuclear treaty to eliminate, not just limit, nuclear arms. The United States and the Soviet Union pledged to destroy and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles).

Now, Washington plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty, according to U.S. President Donald Trump, who says that Russia has violated the agreement for years. Coupled with the prospect of no extension to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Washington may thus be opening the door to a return of a terrifying past. The Trump administration is not just threatening to roll back a slew of protections and safety precautions; it is also quite consciously restarting the arms race, with a full nuclear modernization plan that could cost up to $1.6 trillion over 30 years, according to an October 2017 report from the Congressional Budget Office and other accounts. The Russians and Chinese will undoubtedly respond, but with the cessation of treaty-authorized inspections, governments will be far more in the dark about what the other side is building.

……….Together, these moves could eventually leave the world facing a new kind of balance of terror, and on several different fronts. It’s no longer just about Washington and Moscow. China, which was for much of the Cold War a nuclear minnow and remains a much smaller nuclear power than the United States or Russia, has now stockpiled thousands of missiles, including tactical, cruise, medium-range, long-range, and intercontinental ballistic missiles launchable from air, land, and sea. That arsenal includes the mobile-launched Dongfeng-41, believed to be the world’s longest-ranged missile at a projected 7,500 miles.

Until now, Beijing has been restrained about tipping those missiles with nuclear warheads: It keeps an estimated 250 to 300 warheads, about as many as France. But that could begin to change if tensions rise and no treaty is in place to contain them.

…….. without treaty restrictions, a Pacific balance of terror could prove as unpredictable as what prevailed between Moscow and Washington during the darkest days of the Cold War.

The Trump administration claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the INF Treaty’s failure. In February 2007, Putin declared that the treaty no longer served Russia’s interests. Ever since, Russia has been violating it, claiming that its missile deployments are justified by U.S. missile defense. Even so, the violations have been relatively small-scale, mainly involving the construction of about 40 to 50 prohibited SSC-8 cruise missiles, said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear arms specialist at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. Bunn noted that the United States is also technically violating the treaty by taking a sea-based missile launcher, the Aegis, and putting it ashore. “If the shoe was on the other foot, we’d be screaming about that,” he said.……….HTTPS://FOREIGNPOLICY.COM/2018/10/23/WOULD-INF-WITHDRAWAL-RECREATE-A-NUCLEAR-HAIR-TRIGGER-WORLD/

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November 3, 2018 - Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war

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