Asian plans of Washington

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Jul 24, 2019
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On August 2, 2019 the INF Treaty (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) has expired. The treaty signed by the USSR and the U.S. in 1987 prohibited the two parties to produce, test and deploy ground-based ballistic and cruise nuclear missiles with a range of 500 to 5500 km. Actually, an agreement minimized nuclear threat and war risks between the USSR and the US.

Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Treaty back in 2018. At that time the White House step-by-step was promoting the ideas on liquidation of this Treaty. The main charge fabricated by Washington is the Russian side’s testing of the 9M729 missile, which allegedly violated the agreement. As a result, in February 2019 the United States suspended its participation in the agreement for 6 months, demanding from Russia to change their behavior. It is obvious that the charges brought against the Russian side were a convenient excuse for covering up American missile defense systems Mk41 deployed in Eastern Europe, that are capable of launching "Tomahawk" cruise missiles.

Washington, freed from the obligation, eventually got an opportunity to deploy its intermediate and shorter range missiles anytime and anywhere they want. The Pentagon officials announced their intention to test ground-based cruise missile with a range of about 1000 km in the near future back in March 2019. Previously, this technique was banned under the terms of the INF Treaty but now nothing can stop America. Literally immediately after the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he was in favor of deploying ground-based medium-range missiles in Asia for several months. However, he said it having complained that this would not happen as quickly as we would like.
Analysts have repeatedly said about Washington’s intention to conclude a new agreement but now with the participation of China. According to the United States, deployment of American intermediate range missiles in South Korea, Japan and Australia can make China more compliant. However it is possible that the deployment of missiles may have the opposite effect: it can negatively affect on international and regional security. China not only does not consider the possibility of concluding another agreement, but also believes that the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty to untie its hands to create new weapons.

According to experts, the main danger of testing medium- and shorter-range missiles falling under the treaty terms is that they have a minimum approach time to the target and are designed to disarm the enemy. The presence and deployment of such systems provokes a preemptive strike. Thus, the US by withdrawing from the treaty not only endangers the allies deploying American missiles on their territory, but actually plunge the world into a new arms race.

The consequences of this step are unpredictable. The termination of the INF Treaty may lead to the liquidation of other agreements on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (New START Treaty is probably next), may aggravate the already difficult relations between Moscow and Washington, or push Europe to develop its own missile defense potential. Such may be the results of the race for Washington's military and strategic superiority.