A group of US senators have written an open letter to President Donald Trump urging not to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a Cold War-era nuclear weapons agreement with Russia.
“While we understand the challenges of getting Russia to reverse its violation of the INF Treaty, the Administration’s sudden decision to withdraw unilaterally is a political and geostrategic gift to Russia,” Senators Bob Menendez, Jack Reed and Mark Warner wrote on Monday.
They said such a step in particular “feeds a narrative that the United States is willing to shred our commitments unilaterally without any strategic alternative.”
“Additionally, it allows Russia to expand the production and deployment of its intermediate range missile system, the 9M729, which will further menace Europe,” they said.
Trump said last month that he was planning to abandon the INF, a key arms control treaty that has been in place since 1986, over claims that Moscow violated it.
The decision drew criticism from former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who signed the original document with Ronald Reagan, his American counterpart at the time.
Condemning the move as a “mistake,” Gorbachev said it demonstrated Trump’s “lack of wisdom.”
“Under no circumstances should we tear up old disarmament agreements. … Do they really not understand in Washington what this could lead to?” Gorbachev was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax on Sunday. “Quitting the INF is a mistake.”
Gorbachev said Trump was undermining all the past efforts made between the two countries to fulfill nuclear disarmament.
Moscow has threatened to respond in kind and act to restore the balance of military power should Washington choose to exit the agreement.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has warned that the new US strategy showed that the country was “seriously considering the concept of a limited nuclear war.”