The Crumbling Architecture of Arms Control
By Dan Smith
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)
At a political rally on Saturday, 20 October, US President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). This confirms what has steadily been unfolding over the past couple of years: the architecture of Russian–US nuclear arms control is crumbling.
Building blocks of arms control
As the cold war ended, four new building blocks of East–West arms control were laid on top of foundations set by the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty):
• The 1987 INF Treaty eliminated all ground-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5500 kilometres, including both cruise and ballistic missiles.
• The 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) capped at equal levels the number of heavy weapons deployed between the Atlantic and the Urals by members of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO).
• The 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I) reduced the number of strategic nuclear weapons; further cuts were agreed in 2002 and again in 2010 in the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).
• The 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) were parallel, unilateral but agreed actions by both the Soviet Union and the USA to eliminate short-range tactical nuclear weapons, of which thousands existed.
Taken together, the nuclear measures—the INF Treaty, START I and the PNIs—had a major impact (see figure 1).