John Avlon says that unless we all change course within six months, the treaty will be officially over and open escalation may accelerate on both sides.
February 4, 2019

John Avlon did one of his "Reality Checks" on Trump's announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the INF arms treatment.

"On the Trump watch, we were treated to the White House officially denying the president's midwinter orange perma-tan is the result of anything but good genes. But you might have missed this. The U.S. announced we're pulling out of a landmark nuclear treaty with Russia. That means the world might be on the brink of a nuclear arms race and that should get your attention. The treaty is known as the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty, or INF," he said.

"The missiles could destroy cities within ten minutes of being launched and had been deployed throughout Europe and the Soviet Union. The INF was a crowning success and it cooled tensions at a critical moment, the Cold War. Nearly 2700 nuclear missiles were destroyed between the U.S. and Soviet Union. So why would we ditch it now? The Russians have not been honoring the treaty. Putin criticized it as early as 2007 and was accused producing new weapons systems during the Obama years, drawing a stern diplomatic rebuke but little else. A treaty isn't worth much when the other side isn't respecting it. It made sense in a dual superpower world but much less sense today when it's estimated 95% of China's 2,000 nuclear missiles fall into this category.

"Now unless we all change course within six months, the treaty will be officially over and open escalation may accelerate on both sides. Nuclear arms races are good for arms manufacturers but generally bad for living things. As Reagan's secretary of state recently said, leaving the INF treaty would be a huge step backwards. We should fix it, not kill it. Gorbachev also weighed in, calling Trump's decision to withdraw from the treaty 'reckless' and 'not the work of a great mind. 'It's believed nine nations now have nuclear weapons and nonproliferation efforts are in danger of being a thing of the past. President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and believes North Korea is on its way to denuclearization completely.

"But his own intel chiefs say that's not true. Not only that, Trump has dismissed the U.S.-Russian new START treaty and claims the U.S. has fallen behind on new weapons capacity. 'If countries are going to have nukes, he says, we're going to be the ones at the top of the pack.' Now, arms control may seem less exciting than Super Bowl parties and political scandals, but it's serious stuff.

"All agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limiting nuclear weapons must be preserved for the sake of preserving life on earth."

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