October 23, 2018

Trump's decision to exit arms treaty with Russia could free the U.S. to put new missiles in Asia

Featuring Eric Sayers

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Journalist David S. Cloud

President Trump says he is withdrawing from a landmark Cold War-era arms treaty with Russia because Moscow has been violating the agreement for years.

But scrapping the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty also serves another key Trump goal: intensifying military pressure on China.

Because Beijing is not a signatory to the agreement, it has been able to build an extensive arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads. It’s a stockpile that now threatens U.S. air bases and aircraft carriers central to the Pentagon strategy for defending allies in Asia.

If Trump follows through on his vow to withdraw from the treaty, the Pentagon would be free to deploy medium-range missiles in Asia capable of hitting targets in China, current and former officials say. Unless Russia and China agree to a new agreement, Trump has said, “we are going to develop the weapons.”

Abrogating the treaty could come at a high price, however. It would risk intensifying a growing U.S. military rivalry with Beijing and Moscow, both of which are likely to deploy new weapons to counter any U.S. buildup, critics say.

Read the full article and more in The Los Angeles Times.

  • Eric Sayers

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Eric Sayers is a Senior Adjunct Fellow for the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Throughout his career, Mr. Sayers has worked on a wide varie...