Germany's chief of defence, Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn, has voiced alarm over the looming collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in an interview with the German outlet RND. Asked about the changes in security policy he is most concerned about, the military chief said that he is worried about medium-range missile regimes if the treaty is terminated.
“In my opinion, then a new arms control regime must be introduced. And everyone must be brought on board — Russia, the US, China. That would be the key criterion for me regarding our safety in Europe and in Germany”, Zorn stated.
In February, President Donald Trump announced the US would unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty, pointing towards Russia’s 9M729 cruise missile, which American officials claim violates the existing limitations.
Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations that the missile violates the 1987 accord, pointing out that the American missile defence systems deployed in Europe can be repurposed for offensive capabilities and therefore are themselves in violation of the treaty. Moscow responded to President Trump's decision to withdraw by suspending its own participation.
On top of that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently stated that the collapse of the INF Treaty casts a shadow over the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty's (New START) extension. This treaty, based on several previous joint non-proliferation arrangements and limits the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, nuclear-armed bombers, and nuclear warheads, is due to expire in 2021.
Europe, meanwhile, is said to be caught in the crosshairs between the two countries. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, the continent would be the most vulnerable to any negative consequences as a result of the INF Treaty’s collapse, stressing the inadmissibility of a new arms race.