Washington quitting INF will lead to historic setback

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/22 22:48:40

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he intends to withdraw the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. And his national security adviser, John Bolton, would reportedly tell Russian officials about the pullout in his two-day visit to Moscow that starts Monday.

The landmark treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union in December 1987 laid a foundation for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime formed after the Cold War. Both signatories have largely abided by the treaty over the last three decades. But in recent years Washington has frequently accused Russia of violating the pact in a bid to find a pretext for its withdrawal.

Moscow responded strongly to the US decision, calling it a "very dangerous step." Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the US move could invite retaliatory measures from Russia, "including involving military technology."

The Soviet Union could stand up to the US as an equal when the INF was signed, but today Washington increasingly disregards Russia and hurries to get rid of the treaty. The US withdrawal would aggravate the strategic imbalance in today's world. It could trigger a global arms race and add instability to international and regional security. Decades of global efforts on arms control and disarmament negotiations would come to naught. Washington needs to undertake responsibilities for its decision that will lead to a historic setback.

Washington has walked away from the Paris agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the Universal Postal Union, showing a clear thread of repudiating the international system. But withdrawing from the INF treaty could be the most dangerous move with a far-reaching impact on international security.

Washington is implementing a comprehensive "America First" policy. The US doesn't want to be subject to any constraints, duties or responsibilities. Such a US is taking the world into uncharted waters.

Not unexpectedly Trump mentioned China in his withdrawal decision. The INF treaty is binding for only the US and Russia. Although China has exercised restraint in developing strategic weaponry with no intention of nuclear power competition, the US still fixes its eyes on China doubtfully.

China's rise is driven by economic development. Military might and strategic nuclear power have never played an outstanding role in China's foreign relations. But as the US grows more skeptical about China, we face growing strategic risks and have become the main target of US hegemony. China doesn't need to compete with the US over the scale of nuclear weapons, but our nuclear power development has been outpaced by our strategic risks. The US has the potential intention to check China's clout through military pressure, which China needs to prepare for. We shouldn't get involved in the US-Russia nuclear arms race. China needs to enhance its nuclear deterrence for the sake of national security.

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