US's INF Move Could Prove Fatal for Arms Control Treaties - Int'l Law Assoc.

© AP PhotoMissiles, SS-23 Destroyed. The 957th and last of the Soviet Union's SS-23 shorter range missiles
Missiles, SS-23 Destroyed. The 957th and last of the Soviet Union's SS-23 shorter range missiles - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US ultimatum to leave the INF Treaty within 2 months if fulfilled threatens the survival of all such arrangements including the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Director of the UN Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, John Burroughs, told Sputnik.

"Final US withdrawal from the INF Treaty threatens to unravel all arms control arrangements, and the stability and predictability they provide between the United States and Russia," Burroughs said. "The INF Treaty… was a foundation for subsequent agreements on reduction of long-range nuclear forces. If that foundation is removed, it is unclear whether New START and control and reduction of long-range nuclear forces generally can be sustained."

March 3, 2002 file photo shows a member of the public watching a US Air Force B 52 bomber arriving at RAF Fairford in western England. Pushing his vision of a nuclear weapons-free world, President Barack Obama returned to Prague on Thursday, April 8, 2010 to sign a pivotal treaty aimed at sharply paring U.S. and Russian arsenals — and repairing soured relations between the nations. With that, they will commit their nations to slash the number of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third and more than halve the number of missiles, submarines and bombers carrying them, pending ratification by their legislatures. The new treaty will shrink those warheads to 1,550 over seven years. That still allows for mutual destruction several times over. But it will send a strong signal that Russia and the U.S., which between them own more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, are serious about disarmament. - Sputnik International
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Burroughs pointed out, however, that Washington and Moscow still have time to hold talks to save the treaty because a US withdrawal would not take effect until six months after the ultimatum period.

"This all means that there is a long period — eight months — for the US and Russia to resolve their disputes about claimed violations of the INF Treaty," he said. "And it can be done, through negotiations and transparency measures, [and] visits in person to the installations in question."

What was really needed was the creation of a multilateral process for reductions of nuclear arms leading to zero, Burroughs advised, although setting up such a mechanism would be even more challenging.

READ MORE: f INF Cancelled Russia's Responsive Steps to Target States Housing US Missiles

The International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms is an international non-governmental organization headquartered in Berlin. It was founded in 1988 and seeks to build and strengthen international legal efforts to ban the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Inter-missile launch from Sary Shagan testing ground. Still frame taken from a video courtesy of the Russian Defense Ministry - Sputnik International
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The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, bans ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 300 to 3,300 miles. The New START Treaty, which expires in 2021, limits the number of deployed intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, nuclear-armed bombers, and nuclear warheads.

On Tuesday, the State Department said it would suspend US obligations under the INF in 60 days unless Russia comes into compliance. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters the United States has still provided zero evidence to support allegations of violating the accord. Putin also said if Washington wants to develop weapons banned under the INF treaty, Moscow would follow suit.

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