Australian news, and some related international items

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering
Collapse of the INF treaty could be followed by the expiry of New Start,

Barring a miraculous turnround, a key pillar of the cold war-era nuclear arms control architecture will tumble this week. First the US then Russia suspended participation this year in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned missiles with a range of 500km-5500km, over Washington and Nato’s claims that Moscow has developed missiles breaching the agreement. Unless Russia destroys those missiles by August 2, the US is set to terminate the treaty. This is not just highly dangerous for European security. It is a further step in the unravelling of arms control and rekindling of the nuclear arms race.

More than 40 years of talks between the US and Moscow produced nine significant treaties and agreements to limit and then reduce nuclear weapons. The demise of the INF treaty follows the US withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so the country could proceed to develop a missile defence system to counter rockets from “rogue” states such as Iran and North Korea.

Another, bigger, pillar is now teetering. The New Start treaty on reducing strategic nuclear warheads, signed by then US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, will expire in 2021. Though the treaty terms allow it to be extended to 2026, the Trump administration has dragged its feet on doing so. ……..

The demise of New Start, after the INF deal, would not just remove constraints on a new arms race but leave the two big nuclear powers for the first time in decades without the ability to verify each other’s weapons. After Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous signal to existing and aspiring nuclear weapons states. If the biggest atomic powers see no need to submit to controls, or honour nuclear deals with third countries, why should they?

It may now be too late to rescue the INF deal. But Washington should engage rapidly with Moscow on renewing New Start. …….

August 1, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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