President Donald Trump is planning to withdraw the United States from a three-decade-old arms control treaty with Russia. If the White House follows through, it could imperil US relations with Moscow and European allies in the near future — and increase tensions with China down the line.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987. The agreement prohibited Washington and Moscow from fielding ground-launched cruise missiles that could fly between 310 and 3,400 miles.
Both countries signed the agreement as a way to improve relations toward the end of the Cold War. However, both sides still could — and since have — built up cruise missiles that can be fired from the air or sea.
The problem is that Russia has clearly violated that agreement in recent years. In 2014, the Obama administration blamed the Kremlin for testing a cruise missile in direct violation of the accord. (Russia says the US has violated the agreement too, a charge the US denies.)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to improve those weapons; in March, he even made the striking claim that Russia will soon have a nuclear-powered cruise missile that can reach the United States.
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