At 5:00 AM ET on August 2, 2019, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, from the ASEAN conference in Bangkok, Thailand, officially announced that the United States had withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
This was the right decision and it was a long time coming.
Signed in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union, the INF prohibits both countries from producing, possessing, or launching ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with a range between 500-5,500 kilometers.
Since approximately 2014, Russia has repeatedly violated the INF Treaty’s prohibitions and limitations, specifically by creating, testing, producing, and deploying the SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missile.
For three years the Obama Administration led diplomatic talks with Russia, raising the issue of non-compliance, yet the Russians repeatedly denied any breach of the agreement and President Obama did nothing about it.
President Trump gave the Russian government time to bring themselves back into compliance, but after more than a year of no progress, President Trump announced on October 20, 2018 that the United States would begin the process of formally withdrawing from the treaty. On February 2, 2019, pursuant to Article XV of the treaty, the Trump administration formally notified Russia of their intent to leave the treaty, setting up August 2, 2019 as the first day the United States could legally exit the treaty’s obligations. That is what Sec. Pompeo announced today.
For arms control to work, all parties must be committed, lawful participants. The United States must set the precedent that when the rule of law is violated, tangible consequences follow. Russian non-compliance had prevailed without consequence for far too long and It was far past time for the United States to make clear that there are tangible consequences when the rule of law is violated.