US withdrawal from INF Treaty: Consequences for Europe

US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Quentin Lopino, a diplomat of the Ministry for  Europe and Foreign Affairs, answers our questions about how this conclusion could influence the defense of Europe.

Why is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty important for European security?

There are two reasons for why the INF Treaty has such historical and political value for Europeans. Firstly, this is the only agreement according to which all classes of missiles (land-based missiles with a range up to 500-50000 km) were eliminated. This was a major achievement in terms of nuclear disarmament that was a quite positive event for European security.

Secondly, it put an end to the Euromissile crisis which was not only a security crisis but also a political challenge. NATO member-states feared that Washington would not consider the deployment of Soviet SS-20 medium-range nuclear missiles as a direct threat to the United States while they were a direct threat to Europeans.

NATO’s response to this crisis, which combined the deployment of Pershing II medium-range ballistic missiles and a proposal for negotiations that ultimately led to the conclusion of the INF Treaty and, on the contrary, showed that the security interests of the United States and Europe are fundamentally indivisible.

The INF Treaty made a decisive contribution to the unity of the North Atlantic Alliance. This is why its potential US denunciation strongly resonates with the historical relations between Europeans and NATO.

Would Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty affect transatlantic relations?

The current US administration does not believe in the value of arms control and does not consider the preservation of European security architecture as its goal. Indeed, one should no longer deem that the preservation of the architecture of European security is inherently conducive to the interests of American security.

Thus, Washington’s announcement of withdrawal and the treaty reflects a new American approach to strategic competition with China and Russia which would have long-lasting consequences for the European Union.

Vesna News — official website

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