From Asia TimesThe US move to shelve the Intermediate-range Nuclear-Forces treaty could accelerate the demise of the whole post-WWII Western alliance, and herald a bad remix of the 1930s
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its Doomsday Clock to only 2 minutes to midnight. It might be tempting to turn this into a mere squabble about arrows and olives if this wasn't such a terrifying scenario.
US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, secretary-general of the USSR, signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 1987.
The Arms Control Association was extremely pleased. "The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification."
Three decades later, the Trump administration wants to unilaterally pull out of the INF Treaty.
Earlier this week President Trump sent his national security adviser John Bolton to officially break the news to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
As they were discussing extremely serious issues such as implications of a dissolving INF Treaty, the perpetuation of anti-Russia sanctions, the risk of not extending a new START Treaty and the deployment, in Putin's words, of "some elements of the missile shield in outer space," the Russian President got into, well, arrows and olives:
"As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the US coat of arms: it holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy: a branch with 13 olives. My question: has your eagle already eaten all the olives leaving only the arrows?"
Bolton's response: "I didn't bring any olives."
By now it's clear the Trump administration's rationale for pulling out of the INF Treaty is due, in Bolton's words, to "a new strategic reality." The INF is being dismissed as a "bilateral treaty in a multi-polar ballistic missile world," which does not take into consideration the missile capabilities of China, Iran and North Korea.
But there is a slight problem. The INF Treaty limits missiles with a range from 500 km to 5,000 km. China, Iran and North Korea simply cannot pose a "threat" to the United States by deploying such missiles. The INF is all about the European theater of war.
So, it's no wonder the reaction in Brussels and major European capitals has been of barely disguised horror.
EU diplomats have told Asia Times the US decision was a "shock," and "the last straw for the EU as it jeopardizes our very existence, subjecting us to nuclear destruction by short-range missiles," which would never be able to reach the US heartland.
The "China" reason -- that Russia is selling Beijing advanced missile technology -- simply does not cut it in Europe, as the absolute priority is European security. EU diplomats are establishing a parallel to the possibility -- which was more than real last year -- that Washington could nuclear-bomb North Korea unilaterally. South Korea and Japan, in that case, would be nuclear "collateral damage." The same might happen to Europe in the event of a US-Russia nuclear shoot-out.
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