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(((James Acton))) @james_acton32
, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
A few thoughts on Trump's announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (before I disconnect from Twitter from the evening). (1/n)…
1. I do not doubt that Russia is in noncompliance with the treaty. This matters. If you want to live in a rules-based nuclear order, the rules must be enforced. The question is whether U.S. withdrawal is the best response. (2/n)
2. Even if you support INF withdrawal, you should be pretty appalled by its being announced in a campaign speech. In recent days, the U.S. has been telling allies that no decision about withdrawal has yet been made... (3/n)
...Trump's remarks make a mockery of these efforts to engage allies. It'll be interesting to see whether critics who slammed the Obama administration for undermining allied assurance, speak up about this. (4/n)
3. Returning to Russian noncompliance, I believe there is a face saving solution. Russia could modify its offending cruise missile to reduce the range (by verifiably shrinking the fuel tank, for example)... (5/n) return, the United States and its allies should provide access to Russian inspectors to verify that the Mk-41 launchers in Poland and Romania cannot launch cruise missiles. (6/n)
4. I am not optimistic about the prospects for reaching such a solution. But to have any chance, Russia must first be made to pay a meaningful price for its violation, while the United States must promise to alleviate the pain if Russia returns to compliance...(7/n)
...To this end, I support deploying PAC-3 air defenses (which have capability against cruise missiles) to key installations to deny Russia the benefits of noncompliance. And, to impose costs, I support deploying nonnuclear ALCMs to Europe... (8/n)…
...neither of these steps, importantly, would contravene the INF treaty. (9/n)
5. My biggest frustration is that the United States is now withdrawing from the INF treaty having not even tried (in a meaningful way) to bring Russia back into compliance. There is a sensible middle ground here between doing nothing and wrecking the treaty... (10/n)
...A fair amount of blame here lies on the Obama administration. After initial quiet diplomatic outreach failed, it should have acted more forcefully. The earlier Russian noncompliance was addressed, the greater the likelihood of rectifying it was. (11/n)
6. The biggest irony of U.S. withdrawal is that there's a good chance we won't even end up deploying weapons that would have been prohibited by the treaty!.. (12/n)
...Given that air-launched cruise missiles and sea-launched cruise missiles are permitted by the treaty, I am skeptical that ground-launched cruise missiles provide much additional value. After the midterms, Congress might even agree with me... (13/n)
...Moreover, even if the United States develops ground-launched cruise (or ballistic) missiles, it's not clear where we would deploy them--either in Europe to Asia. I don't see allies lining up to host these weapons. (14/n)
7. Russia, by contrast, may well renounce the INF Treaty and build up formerly prohibited capabilities faster than it would have done. By ditching the treaty, the United States will have lost considerable leverage in building up pressure to oppose it. (15/n)
8. When the damage done to allied assurance is combined with the nonexistent likely benefits of INF withdrawal, it looks like the United States scored a big own goal today. (16/16)
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