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Cold War-like arms race is likely to follow the collapse of a historic nuclear treaty

Why the collapse of a historic nuclear treaty could lead to a Cold War-like arms race, ABC News, 

Key points:

  • The landmark INF treaty was integral to ending the Cold War
  • Short and intermediate range missiles were banned because of the short flight time
  • Analyst say it’s unlikely to be renegotiated within the six-month notice period

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the US wanted one, referring to the 1962 standoff that brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Decades later, tensions between the two nations are heating up again.

Mr Putin warned that Moscow would retaliate if the US placed new missiles closer to Russia, telling local media that Moscow could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines outside US territorial waters.

The comments were made after the Trump administration announced it would officially abandon a historic nuclear pact that had kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades.

Here’s a look at what the treaty is, what may come next, and why analysts believe its demise could lead to a 21st-century arms race.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) bans the US and the Russian Federation, previously the Soviet Union, from developing, testing and possessing short- and intermediate-range missiles that could be launched from the ground, as opposed to the sea or sky.

The treaty — signed by former US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987 — declared that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” and took seven years to negotiate.

Both sides agreed to destroy a total of 2,692 short-, medium- and intermediate-range missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres that were stationed in, or aimed at Europe.

The treaty is credited with helping to ending the Cold War.

Maria Rublee, a former US intelligence officer and nuclear politics expert at Monash University, told the ABC these missiles were seen as a “hair trigger for nuclear war” due to how quickly they could strike a target.

“You don’t have time to talk, to pick up the phone, the red hotline, to say what’s going on and ask if this is a mistake.”

Washington and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies claim Moscow has been violating the terms of the treaty by developing missiles within the range for years, but Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Earlier this month the Trump administration declared it would suspend US obligations under the treaty, with the intention of withdrawing because of Russia’s alleged non-compliance.

The day after the announcement, Russia also said it would withdraw from the treaty, and accused the US of fabricating the allegations so it could develop new missiles.

The treaty is not dead just yet — both parties must give six months notice before they can officially withdraw — but Dr Rublee said the chances of the treaty being revived were low, although there was some hope.

“[The first step] is not going to come from the Trump administration and it’s not going to come from Russia,” she said.

“It would need to come from NATO because the countries most at risk are European countries.”…….. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-03/collapse-of-treaty-could-lead-to-new-arms-race/10845950

March 4, 2019 - Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war

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