The Limits of Nuclear Arms Treaties

The idea that a treaty can mitigate the threat of war simply misses the point.

George Friedman |October 22, 2018

After alleging that Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will pull out of the agreement. This isn’t the first time the U.S. made such allegations. Former President Barack Obama also claimed that Russia breached the treaty by deploying certain cruise missiles, but he chose not to withdraw from it under pressure from European nations. Trump is less sensitive to European sentiment and, therefore, has decided to terminate the agreement. The Russians, meanwhile, claim that they are not in violation of the treaty and that the U.S. charges are irresponsible.

Many have speculated that this could lead to an arms race, which raises the question of what exactly the value of nuclear treaties is. Such agreements usually limit the number of missiles a country can possess, govern the range they can fly and restrict testing of new weapons. Many believe treaties that place limits on nuclear weapons reduce the threat of nuclear w

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