The US must fully comply with the INF and New START treaties without any preconditions and ultimatums on the basis of a fundamental principle that has existed since time immemorial: pacta sunt servanda (“agreements must be kept”). What it must not do is wriggle out of them using flimsy pretexts and blame others for their own “non-compliance”.
No doubt, the steady build-up of NATO on Russia’s western border provides the backdrop to the demise of the INF Treaty. The US seeks a shift in the strategic balance in its favor. And it is shaking off all constraints limiting its arms build-up.
Russia and Europe do not need any kind of arms race or any type of war – be it limited or all-out one. So, why not to reach arms control agreements between Russia and Europe separately from the USA in order to maintain stable European security on completely different footing? Only political will is required.
The real situation in the world today shows that there are too many doctrinal and military-technical obstacles preventing the complete and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons. There has also been no noticeable increase in the level of trust between nuclear-armed states, which all have different views on nuclear arms control and the doctrinal basis for their actual use.
Having announced the country’s unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Donald Trump’s administration is planning to enmesh both Europe and Asia in the new intermediate-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles that Washington decided to create a long time ago. Many countries around the world understand this perfectly.
Unfortunately, Heiko Maas’ plan to strengthen arms control is poorly thought out and does not take adequate account of the true state of affairs in this area. His proposal puts the diametrically opposed military and political policies of the United States and Russia on an equal footing internationally and is also unbalanced with regard to China.
The Trump administration seems to have decided to use the current international security environment to its own economic advantage and kill two birds with one stone. After all, military escalation and a new arms race both provide powerful leverage over opponents and are an effective way to attract financial flows.
A good way to begin would be for the US to end its punishing economic warfare against North Korea and permanently halt its provocative military exercises each fall. But the US and Japan, are not eager to see Korea reunified into a powerhouse with 80 million industrious people. They will continue stirring the Korean pot.
So long as the nuclear balance between Pakistan and India can be maintained, then a conventional military peace between the two Great Powers is assured, but the disruption of this equilibrium is dangerous for the entire world because of the encouragement that this could give either state to launch a first strike.
Trump has repeatedly stressed that Russia and the US are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world, and thus the US must live in peace with Russia. On US-Russia relations, Trump is clearheaded. On the contrary, if the US is piling pressure on China today, it is because China, although an economic giant, is still a weak military power.
In the ultimate analysis, North Korea’s goal is to be rid of the sanctions regime imposed on it, seek a place on the international stage as a recognized world power and not a pariah state, while paying lip service to complete denuclearization.
The potential use of low-yield nuclear weapons, which is a real fixation for the current US administration and is being discussed with increasing frequency in the US. It is clear that forces have taken the upper hand on Capitol Hill that are still incapable of imagining the consequences of a nuclear Armageddon.