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US pullout from INF Treaty more dangerous than Cuban Missile crisis, expert warns

Scientific director of the RAS Institute of US and Canadian Studies noted that he had discussed the INF controversy with the White House National Security adviser during private meeting in October

MOSCOW, December 7. /TASS/. Washington’s plans to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) can produce a situation "which will be much more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis," Scientific Director of the RAS Institute of US and Canadian Studies, Academician, Sergei Rogov, said at the 8th All-Russian Congress of Political Scientists in Moscow.

Oksana Gaman-Golutvina, President of the Russian Association of Political Science, told the forum that experience shows that absolute confidence in the improbability of nuclear war by default seems "utopian".

Rogov in turn noted that he discussed the INF accord controversy with White House National Security Adviser John Bolton during their private meeting on October 22. The expert added that Bolton assured him that the planned withdrawal from the arms control deal is not directed "against Russia but against China." However, Bolton didn’t guarantee that the US would not deploy its missiles in close proximity to Russia’s borders, having just said that "there were currently no such plans," the Russian academician stressed.

Eight-month ‘window of opportunity’?

Rogov also recalled that the Europeans had just been able to bargain with Washington for a two-month delay on the US submitting its official notice of withdrawal from the INF accord. On December 4, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after a meeting of top NATO diplomats in Brussels that Washington would suspend its obligations under the arms control deal unless Moscow returned to "full and verifiable" compliance within 60 days. Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on December 5 that the US administration had not provided any evidence confirming Moscow’s violations of the INF Treaty, pointing out that Russia opposes breaking the deal, but would have to respond accordingly should the US pull out of the accord.

After Washington officially submits the notification of its withdrawal, it will take six months for the INF Treaty to become void. The expert is confident that this window (8 months in total) should be used, preferably together with China, to get the United States into a new round of talks on disarmament.

President Trump recently expressed his confidence that he will need to enter into dialogue with his Russian and Chinese counterparts on a "meaningful halt" to the arms race. According to Rogov, this enables Moscow and Beijing to put forward a joint initiative aimed at launching new negotiations on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles of all types. Should the decision on such negotiations be made, there would be no point in tearing up the existing INF Treaty.

Of course, the expert understands that the above-mentioned missiles account for nine-tenths of the entire Chinese arsenal. He also noted that the US is estimated to have four times as many such missiles as Russia and China put together. Hence, Moscow has arguments to address the issue with Beijing, the RAS academician stated. More importantly, Russia and China joining their efforts is something that Washington is most afraid of, according to many American analysts.

The 8th All-Russian Congress of Political Scientists of 2018 is called "Development Policy, State and World Order." Along with delegates from all over Russia, roughly 120 experts from 37 foreign countries will participate in the event. The forum kicked off at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MGIMO), and will continue at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation on Friday.

INF Treaty

US President Donald Trump publicly announced plans to pull out of the INF Treaty for the first time on October 20.

On December 4, top NATO diplomats urged Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), pointing out that now the ball is in Moscow’s court to preserve the deal.

The first time that the US had accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty was back in July 2014. After that Washington has repeated its allegations several times, with which Moscow does not agree, striking back at Washington with counterclaims.

The INF accord was signed between the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987 in Washington, DC and took effect on June 1, 1988. The INF Treaty eliminated operational and non-operational medium-range (1,000-5,500 kilometers) and shorter-range (500-1,000 kilometers) ground-launched missiles.