The U.S. informed its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies that Russia is potentially in noncompliance with its arms control obligations under the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty, reports the New York Times. These reports are not really surprising, considering that Russian high-level officials’ statements have indicated actions inconsistent with the treaty for quite some time.
The U.S. leadership must address Russian non-compliance. First, it is time that the State Department acknowledges Russian violations in its Report on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments that the Department is required to submit to Congress ever year.
Additionally, the Administration should stop all nuclear weapons reductions until the time when Russia is in compliance with its obligations. Unilateral reductions will further undermine U.S. national security and potentially cause allies to doubt U.S. commitment to their security. The U.S. should not hesitate to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty if the Russians do not comply with its terms within a reasonable time frame. This is because Russia has cheated on every single arms control agreement it has ever signed, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the INF Treaty, and the Chemical Weapons Convention. If the U.S. continues to abide by the terms of the treaty the Russians are violating, it would put itself in disadvantage and continue to impose costly limits on some of its other research and development efforts.
Russia has proven time and again that it is not a trustworthy partner when it comes to international negotiations. It should not be considered so. The U.S. must improve its global monitoring capabilities, including space-based. The 2014 Defense Science Board study found these capabilities lacking. Russian noncompliance further underscores the need to advance U.S. monitoring capabilities.
Russian INF violations also underscore the need to develop and advance U.S. ballistic missile defense capabilities that would protect the homeland, U.S. forward-deployed troops, and allies that are well within the range on the intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The U.S. is currently the only nuclear weapons state without a substantive nuclear weapons modernization program. Russian noncompliance is a stark reminder that the world isn’t getting any safer and that the U.S. must be flexible and resilient when it comes to its strategic capabilities.