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Arms race warning as treaty scrapped

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE Feb 4, 2019
The US scrapping of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia could launch a new arms race, but will also allow the United States to update its nuclear arsenal, a publicly stated goal for the past year. President Donald Trump announced on Friday the US was suspending its obligations under the INF treaty and starting a process to withdraw in six months. NATO has said that US allies fully support its withdrawal from the pact, and agreed that Russia's 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems violates the treaty. A day later, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a tit-for-tat withdrawal from the pact to develop new types of weapons, calling Washington's decision unilateral and totally unprovoked. The United States has complained about the alleged Russian violations for years. But now it is also speaking openly about its chance to upgrade its arms stock. When the United States unveiled its new nuclear policy in February 2018, it warned that it planned to buy two new weapons: a new type of low-power nuclear missile to be launched from a submarine, and a new type of nuclear cruise missile that would violate the INF agreement. This new missile - which would come into service within a decade - would only be a violation of the treaty if it were deployed, the Pentagon says. It has always stressed that a research and development program was not prohibited by the 1987 treaty with Moscow. Michael Krepon, of the Stimson Center, believes that "we're headed toward a new nuclear arms race." "Any time your national defense budget is 10 times bigger than Russia's and five times bigger than China's, you can afford an arms race. " But arms races usually don't end well: even if you stay ahead of the competition, your security is diminished," he said.

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April 2019