The United States announced Friday that it is pulling out of a landmark nuclear arms treaty with Russia, arguing that it should not be constrained by a deal Moscow is violating with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Democrats in Congress and some arms control advocates slammed the decision as opening the door to an arms race.
President Donald Trump repeated a years-long U.S. accusation that Russia secretly developed and deployed “a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad.” He said the U.S. had adhered to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty since it was signed in 1987, but Russia had not.
“We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other,” Trump said in a written statement.
The Trump decision reflects his administration’s view that the arms treaty was an unacceptable obstacle to more forcefully confronting not only Russia but also China. China’s military has grown mightily since the treaty was signed, and the pact has prevented the U.S. from deploying weapons to counter those being developed in Beijing.
Pulling the plug on the INF pact, however, risks aggravating relations with European allies, who share the administration’s view that Russia is violating the treaty but who have not endorsed a U.S. withdrawal.