Whats INF & why does it matter?

      Russia gears up to suspend the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, after the US decided to abandon it, accusing Moscow of violations. RT looks at how compliance with the pact that calmed the Cold War has been going so far.       

What is INF & why it matters?

The INF treaty signed in 1987 between the USSR and the United States eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The historic accord marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to eliminate an entire category of nuclear arms and introduce on-site inspections for verification. The deal brought much-needed detente to an atmosphere of tense Cold War stand-off, and allowed Europe, which housed much of the American arsenal, to breathe a sigh of relief.

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INF shortcomings

The deal didnt affect aircraft- and sea-based missiles, an area where the US had a clear strategic advantage at the time, so it was widely seen as a gesture of goodwill by the USSR at a cost to its own national security. Another significant problem with the INF treaty was that other nuclear-armed nations were never party to it – including US allies France and the UK, as well as China.

Itch for better INF deal? Trumps treaty withdrawal symptom destabilizes global order

US claims & accusations

Despite Moscows compliance with the deal, Washington – citing its classified intelligence – keeps claiming that Russia has been secretly developing intermediate-range missiles, in particular, those that can allegedly be fired from the tactical missile system Iskander-M, deployed along the countrys western borders.

READ MORE: US accuses Russia of non-compliance while funding mid-range missile R&D

Moscows concerns with Washingtons interpretation of INF

Russia has its own, rather clearly-defined issues with how the US interprets the treaty:

  • Moscow is accusing the US of violating the treaty by placing standardized ground-based Aegis Ashore anti-missile launchers in Europe that can be used to fire cruise missiles.
  • It has also pointed to a series of so-called ballistic target-missiles, such as Hera, that are used in the US in anti-missile system tests, as being in violation.
  • Russia is also concerned at heavy combat drones, a staple of American air power that can perform tasks of ground-launched cruise missiles, in violation of the INF treaty.

US plans & excuses

The White House administration suspended the INF treaty at the start of February and promised to leave it altogether in 180 days unless Russia gives in to its demands. Prior to its suspension, the Trump administration had requested the development of an INF-compliant medium-range missile, as outlined in the Trump Nuclear Posture Review. Also requested by Trump was a low-yield submarine-launched nuclear warhead, which went into production in January after a speedy development.

READ MORE: US defense bill authorizes development of INF treaty-compliant mid-range missile

However, since the INFs suspension, Washington haRead More – Source
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