By Benjamin Fredrick, Junior Electrical Engineering major
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF for short, is rapidly going downhill. The treaty banned all short and intermediate-range nuclear missiles that were land based cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. This was a large step forward when the United States and Russia confirmed the treaty in 1987. It brought the Cold War closer to an end and significantly decreased the arms race.
The two countries signed this accord because both countries were deploying these missiles all across the world, giving each nation the ability to cause a nuclear strike without a large deal of warning. Experts say at the time, the short-range American missile based in Europe could reach Russia in less then 10 minutes. This is a very large difference compared to the 30-minute flight time for an ICBM between North America and Russia. This treaty started a chain of events that helped end a several decade long arms race that was not helping the world. It was a major step towards lasting peace.
The United States, under President Donald Trump, decided to pull out of the treaty late into last year. Trump felt that Russia was violating the parameters of the treaty by deploying short range missiles. According to American intelligence, Russia did deploy banned missiles when the Ukraine/Crimea incident occurred while former President Barack Obama was still in office. However, Obama chose to remain in the treaty and started dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the conflict in a peaceful way.
Obama did not pull out of the treaty because he felt that it would have been a step in the wrong direction — a step towards another arms race that would be costly and go nowhere in the end. At the very worst, that step could bring us closer to nuclear war.
Nevertheless, with Trump’s great wisdom, he has decided to remove America from the INF treaty. Doing so could cause Russia to withdraw as well. Both sides now have the legal authority to deploy short range missiles around the world. If both countries do this, it will bring the doomsday clock much closer to midnight.
There are valid reasons for Trump to withdraw from the treaty. The treaty only restricts the U.S. and Russia from deploying these types of missiles. China is not banned by the type of missiles they are allowed to produce. Some officials feel that the United States needs the ability to deploy short range missiles around China as a deterrent against future action they may take.
Some people feel that this is the way to go, but usually bringing more guns to a party just causes more people to die pointlessly. The United States should have remained in the treaty and sought a peaceful solution, and if they felt threatened by China or any other country, make a treaty with them barring that country from deploying these banned weapons.
The people of the United States do not want to enter another arms race with Russia to see who can build more nuclear weapons. The people feel that we have enough and the budget for those should go elsewhere. About 99.99 percent of the world does not want to move closer to a nuclear war. Hopefully, this action by Trump does not bring about the end of mankind as we know it.