31 Oct

A bilateral treaty of cold war period named Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) has been brought to agenda as a current issue regarding the alternating balance and interests of today’s politic infrastructure. The INF Treaty holds major importance especially for the late world history by means of setting an example for the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies. Besides serving as a model for the subsequent implications, the INF also allows the examination of US and Russian relations concerning their foreign policy towards each other and enables the understanding of defense trends dominating the behaviors of the states. Therefore, the INF Treaty and the recent political developments regarding this very issue should be put under scope in order to grasp the importance of the treaty while building an insight for most of the surrounding incidents.

Background, preparation process, and the following implementation of the INF Treaty should be put forward as the primer issue to be addressed. The INF is qualified as an arms control agreement signed by the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic on December 1987 to enter into force on June 1988. The agreement intends to aim the elimination of the missiles that are subject to the agreement. The treaty historically belongs to the final stages of cold war period and it aims to provide an equal platform among two superpower states by eliminating the short (range of 500-1000 kilometers) and intermediate-range (range of 1000-5500 kilometers) missiles deployed in European states. Since the Treaty has been concluded between the parties of the 45 years long cold war, witnessing the states coming to an agreement related to the nuclear disarmament had an undeniable importance. The possible geographical utilization of the prohibited missiles by the countries would be observed on the Europe continent since their position is taken into consideration. Hence, the treaty bears a vast importance, also for Europe. The negotiation process has lasted for 4 years between the years 1981-1983 and 1985-1987. The parties of the treaty had agreed with the motive asserted in the preamble of the treaty; “conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for all mankind, guided by the objective of strengthening strategic stability, convinced that the measures set forth in this Treaty will help to reduce the risk of outbreak of war and strengthen international peace and security”. Therefore, along with this treaty, the nations who stood as rivals for nearly a half-century, have compromised for a greater good. During the period following the effectiveness of the INF Treaty, United States destroyed the BGM-109G GLCMs, Pershing 1a and Pershing II while Soviet Union destroyed SS-4, SS-5, SS-12, SS-20, SS-23, and SSC-X-4 missiles, the vehicles used for their transportation and the launcher systems. Both nations had the authorization to sustain inspections on the other nation’s military equipment.

Nevertheless, the recent political developments have disturbed this mentioned balance. After the collapse of the Union, the treaty has survived to date with Russia being the successor of the Union. However, the disputes regarding the effectuality of the treaty have started in the early 2000s. The conflicts initiated with the notice of the US indicating the intentions of the US in terms of withdrawing from the main Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to maintain their National Missile Defense in 2001. The concern of the United States was depending on the attack of 9/11. The main purpose was to provide protection against any possible air attacks that might be carried out.  After a course of six years, depending on the actions of the United States, especially the withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Putin, the president of Russia, has announced that the treaty was no longer in compliance with the state’s benefits. Therefore the allegations of both of the countries towards each other regarding the violation of the treaty have formed a nearly 20-year period. Among the claims of the parties, another one was the claim of the US stating that not involving the countries such as China into this treaty as contracting states will result in the exploitation of the situation and cause an unequal balance. The most current situation portrays the allegations of the Trump administration referring Russia violating the INF treaty with its new intermediate-range missile Novator 9M729, known as SSC-8 by NATO. Moreover, the administration also declared the plan of withdrawing from the treaty while Russia argues that the treaty has not been violated and the withdrawal of the US from the treaty would have hazardous consequences only resulting in an arms race. Because of the historical background of the situation and the qualifications of the parties, NATO position and declarations also matter. The secretary-general of NATO declared that the allies of the organization have concerns regarding the new missile and even though there is no demand for a confrontation, NATO will be defending all of the allies.

Even though the cold war period is concluded a long time ago, the parties of the war withhold an aggression and tension throughout this period from time to time. It would be precise to assert that, the last situation arrived at is a consequence and the blast of the accumulated tension. In an environment developing and expanding at a rapid pace by means of politics, technology, and any other indicators, it is unexpected to abide by a treaty that was signed thirty years ago. However, the optimal solution is not the abandonment of the INF but readjusting the treaty to the changing conditions of the political and defense industry-related environment. Especially to prevent the mainstream tendency towards the utilization of nuclear weapons, the scope and the content of the treaty should be reorganized considering the current balance of power, and therefore the treaty and the initial ends aimed with it in the first place can be achieved.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, December 8, 1987
“INF Treaty: Nato Has No Plans for More Nuclear Missiles in Europe.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Oct. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45964776.
“INF Treaty: Russia ‘Will Respond’ to New US Missiles in Europe.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Oct. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45971537.
Nichols, Michelle. “Russia, U.S. Clash over INF Arms Treaty at United Nations.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 26 Oct. 2018, www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-russia-un/russia-u-s-clash-over-inf-arms-treaty-at-united-nations-idUSKCN1N02FI.

Author: Aybike Hotamaroğlu

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