Lawrence J. Korb, Shannon McKeown
The future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty is in jeopardy. Here is what America should do to preserve it.
The future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty is in jeopardy. Reports of a Russian deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) threaten to undermine the Treaty—one that not only eliminated an entire class of weapons, but has also proved instrumental in providing global nuclear security and the basis for several strategic arms agreements between the United States and Russia.
The U.S. Congress recently reached a compromise between both of their chambers’ versions of the the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), deciding to allocate $ 58 million to “counter Russia’s violation of the Treaty, including for research and development of a U.S. ground-launched cruise missile system.” While the development of this missile is in compliance of the treaty, it would undoubtedly be interpreted as a provocation by the Russians and could lead to the collapse of the treaty.
Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty prohibits the development, testing or possession of ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500–5500 km and provides unprecedented intrusive inspections. Russia, according to U.S. intelligence reports, has in recent years developed and deployed dozens of GLCMs dangerously close to European borders. The survival of the treaty is at stake, posing a threat to American security interests and NATO allies.