Why we urgently need to talk about disarmament

Europe’s security is at risk. The weapons prohibited under the INF Treaty pose a particular threat to the European continent.

Europe’s security is at risk. The weapons prohibited under the INF Treaty pose a particular threat to the European continent., © TASS

23.10.2018 - Article

A key building block in Europe’s security is under threat. The end of the INF disarmament treaty could have far-reaching consequences.

A return to the Cold War? 

One of the most important disarmament agreements is in danger. Back in 1987, the INF Treaty successfully eliminated a whole class of weapons – ground-launched intermediate-range missiles – as between the USA and the Soviet Union. But now the Treaty is at risk of being scrapped. After years of fruitless talks about Russia’s violation of the Treaty, the US has announced that it wants to withdraw from the agreement.

Suspicions against Russia

Background: Russia has failed to respond adequately to allegations that it has committed a serious breach of the treaty, in spite of repeated calls for verification. There are various grounds to believe that Russia has tested and deployed a ground-launched cruise missile prohibited under the terms of the INF Treaty. As a result of this highly probable treaty violation, a question mark has already hung over the agreement for several years.

Who bears the brunt? The Europeans.

If the agreement were to be scrapped as a result of Russia’s violation, this would deal a serious blow to Europe’s security, since the weapons systems concerned are deemed to have a particularly destabilising effect. With their range they threaten the European continent; they cannot however reach US territory. And they are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

What Germany is doing now

Foreign Minister Maas considers it clear that the Europeans must leave no stone unturned in their efforts to save the Treaty by diplomatic means. The INF Treaty’s future must accordingly also be discussed in NATO. It will be equally vital to conduct a dialogue – which includes Russia – on strategic stability and on reducing existing risks of escalation as a matter of urgency. These important issues cannot be put off any longer. Foreign Minister Maas and our European partners will thus work together to persuade Washington and Moscow to enter into new talks. 

Russia must comply with its treaty obligations. Germany will make this point to Russia. A new arms race absolutely must be prevented.


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