Donald Trump's Security Adviser Wants Him to End Nuclear Missile Treaty With Russia, Reports Say

National security adviser John Bolton reportedly wants President Donald Trump to exit a Cold War–era treaty that prevents the United States and Russia from producing certain intermediate-range missiles.

Bolton, a hawkish opponent of attempts to limit U.S. military capabilities, issued a recommendation for Washington to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, The Guardian and The New York Times cited sources as saying on Friday. The treaty bans the production of all land-based nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,420 miles).

However, both the U.S. and Russia accused each other of breaking the deal as tensions between the longtime military rivals threatened to erupt into a 21st-century arms race.

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Mikhail Secretary Gorbachev shake hands after signing the INF Treaty ratification in the Grand Kremlin Palace during the Moscow Summit, on June 1, 1988. In 2017, Gorbachev said the collapse of the endangered treaty could spark an arms race. Wikimedia Commons

The INF was widely considered a milestone for diplomacy when President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sat down to sign the treaty in 1987. The world's top two military powers had been feuding for decades but never directly fought with one another in open conflict, despite some close calls. In December 2017, on the 30th anniversary of the treaty's signing, Gorbachev warned of the "heavy consequences" of its collapse.

The Soviet Union collapsed only a few years after the treaty was signed. As the global geopolitical map changed after 1991 and the U.S launched a global "war on terror" the following decade, Bolton became a leading opponent of agreements that restricted U.S. military might. In a blow to diplomatic arms control, Bolton successfully pushed President George W. Bush in 2001 to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which limited the U.S. and Russia to two major missile defense complexes of about 100 missiles each.

The move was immediately opposed at the time by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told NBC News in March of this year that "an arms race started precisely at that point."

Bolton had expressed similar distaste for the INF. In August 2011, he and former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Paula A. DeSutter penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal arguing that the current framework of the treaty did not address threats from Iran, which itself had become a growing missile power.

National Security Advisor John Bolton (left) at the White House on June 7, and Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) at his residence outside Moscow on June 21. Bolton has long sought to pull the U.S. out of landmark arms control treaties with Russia. NICHOLAS KAMM/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Sputnik/Getty Images

In 2014, the U.S. accused Russia of violating the INF by developing a new cruise missile that surpassed the restricted range of the treaty. The weapon in question was revealed in late 2017 to be the 9M729 missile system, dubbed "SSC-X-8" by the U.S.-led NATO Western military alliance.

Moscow dismissed those accusations and accused the U.S. of failing to adhere to the INF by establishing a comprehensive missile defense system across Europe that, Putin warned, could be used against Russia. When it was time to negotiate the issue with Russian officials directly in June, Trump sent Bolton to do the job.