'Giant Mistake': Reagan's Secretary of State Condemns US Withdrawal From INF Treaty With Russia

CC0 / / A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile in 1988 prior to its destruction
A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile in 1988 prior to its destruction - Sputnik International
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The former top diplomat criticised the Trump administration's apparent "allergy" to international accords, but yet supported Washington's decision to ditch the nuclear deal with Iran. The latter subsequently prompted a spike in nuclear fuel production and enrichment by Tehran.

Former Secretary of State and one of the people behind the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987, George Shultz, said in an interview with The New York Times that he regrets Washington's decision to withdraw from a Reagan-era missile accord with Russia.

He called the decision an error in judgement by the Trump administration and argued that the INF Treaty had made the world safer because it eliminated an entire class of nuclear armaments by prohibiting the development and the production of missiles operating in ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, as well as their launchers. The former top diplomat expressed hope that another arms control deal, the New START will not meet the same fate.

"Withdrawing from the INF Treaty was a giant mistake. You lose not only the agreement itself, but you lose all those verification provisions that we worked so hard on", Shultz said.

Shultz went on to criticise other similar moves made by the current administration, suggesting it has an "allergy" to international accords. The former Secretary of State suggested in a freshly released book called "A Hinge of History: Governance in an Emerging New World", that such an approach comes at a focal point in history, when cooperation between states is essential for making much-needed changes in a number of spheres, including education, national security, technology, and economics. Yet, such cooperation between countries is hardly attainable taking into account the current state of affairs, in part due to the approach taken by the Trump administration, Shultz concluded.

"We seem to be in an upset state of affairs where it is hard to get things accomplished. [The Trump administration] seem to be skeptical of these agreements, of any agreement. Agreements aren't usually perfect. You don't get everything you want. You compromise a little bit. But they're way better than nothing", the former diplomat said.

Despite condemning Trump's decisions to withdrawal from agreements and obligations, the former top diplomat nonetheless supported one of them – leaving the nuclear deal with Iran struck by former President Barack Obama in 2015. Shultz, however, did speak highly of recent diplomatic efforts by the White House, including those leading to the normalisation of ties between Israel and several Arab states – the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.

US Ditching Crucial Arms Control Deal

Washington stopped fulfilling its obligations under the INF Treaty in August 2019 after accusing Russia of violating its provisions. Despite Russia itself having concerns about US adherence to the deal and Moscow making several attempts to prove its compliance, Washington insisted on withdrawing from the accord.

© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the photo bankRussia INF Treaty
'Giant Mistake': Reagan's Secretary of State Condemns US Withdrawal From INF Treaty With Russia - Sputnik International
Russia INF Treaty

Mere months after ditching the INF, Washington conducted the first tests of its new non-INF-compliant missile, leading Russia to an assumption that the withdrawal was pre-arranged to free Washington from arms control obligations and legalise the missile, which had long been in development. The Kremlin called the White House's accusations of non-compliance against Russia fictitious and a pre-text for abandoning the deal.

Spasskaya (right) and the Tsar’s towers of the Moscow Kremlin. - Sputnik International
Kremlin Hopes New START Treaty Will Be Extended For One Year, Disagreements Overcome

Following the withdrawal from the INF, the only remaining accord limiting the two countries' arsenals is the New START, which is, however, due to expire in February 2021. Moscow, on multiple occasions, has expressed concern over the lack of progress in talks on its extension. After months of fruitless talks, Russia and the US finally reached a preliminary agreement, stipulating that the treaty will be extended for one year to make room for further extension talks. The White House insisted that the agreement should include a clause temporarily banning the increase in nuclear arsenals for this year by both sides.

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