Donald Trump Made a 'Dire Threat to Peace' and Started 'New Arms Race,' Warns Mikhail Gorbachev

Former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the architects of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, has said that the Trump administration is more concerned with pulling out of international agreements than it is with international disarmament.

Days after President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the INF treaty, Gorbachev wrote a New York Times op-ed laying out why he believes the Trump administration’s approach to international arms agreements is dangerous.  

“A new arms race has been announced. The I.N.F. Treaty is not the first victim of the militarization of world affairs. In 2002, the United States withdrew from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty; this year, from the Iran nuclear deal. Military expenditures have soared to astronomical levels and keep rising,” Gorbachev wrote on Thursday.

“With enough political will, any problems of compliance with the existing treaties could be resolved. But as we have seen during the past two years, the president of the United States has a very different purpose in mind. It is to release the United States from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles,” he continued. “The United States has in effect taken the initiative in destroying the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.”

gettyimages-1052735364-594x594 A Russian flag flies next to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on October 22. National security adviser John Bolton went to Moscow this week to meet with Russian officials following Washington's announcement of withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has reacted much differently to the news that the INF Treaty, which was signed by Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan, could soon be terminated. The Russian leader has joked that there could be a nuclear Armageddon and promised to halt Russia’s participation in the treaty as soon as the Americans do. He has also suggested that any new U.S. missiles stationed in Europe could be at risk of Russian military strikes.

The INF treaty had eliminated and prohibited all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,500 miles. 

Russia’s military has never been fond of the INF Treaty, which it views as a constraint, and Moscow has been frequently accused of violating the treaty’s provisions. Some analysts have claimed that the treaty puts the U.S. at a disadvantage because China, which is not a signatory, is able to amass weapons that violate the treaty, while the U.S. cannot.

Many believe that it was Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, a vehement opponent of most international agreements, who had lobbied for an end to the treaty. Bolton visited Moscow this week, where he told Russian officials about the Trump administration’s plans to end the agreement.

Questions also remain about the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which puts limits on nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. New START will be up for renewal in 2021.

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