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Bolton pushing Trump to quit nuclear treaty with Russia

Bolton pushing Trump to quit nuclear treaty with Russia

Bolton pushing Trump to quit nuclear treaty with Russia
October 20
07:53 2018

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton is reportedly pushing President Donald Trump to withdraw from a treaty designed to prevent a nuclear arms race between the US and Russia.

Citing sources familiar with the issue, The Guardian reported Friday that Bolton recommended Trump pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on the grounds that Russia had violated it by developing new cruise missiles.

The proposal has been met with opposition from some officials within the State Department and the Pentagon, postponing a White House meeting on the matter which was scheduled for Monday.

The Cold War-era INF will reach its congressionally imposed deadline early next year.

The 2019 military spending bill requires Trump to notify the Senate by January 15 of whether Russia is in “material breach” of the INF, and whether the deal should remain legally binding.

According to the report, former US officials say Bolton has been also blocking talks on extending the New START, a 2010 agreement with Russia that limits the number of deployed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles, nuclear armed bombers, and nuclear warheads.

Moscow has already signaled interest in extending the deal beyond its 2021 expiration date, but Bolton is looking for other alternatives to define the future of arms control between the two sides.

Washington drew criticism from its European allies this week after informing them of Bolton’s recommendation.

The remarks unsettled British officials, who view the INF as an important pillar of arms control that ended the dangerous nuclear standoff in the 1980s, which pit the US and the Soviet Union against each other.

The report further reveals the disregard that Bolton, a known war hawk with a record of opposing arms control agreements, has as he pushes to become a driver of radical change from within the White House.

Nuclear tensions between Washington and Moscow rose in February, when the Trump administration released its updated Nuclear Posture Review, which authorized US research on new ground-launched medium-range missiles as well as smaller tactical nuclear weapons.

The review, which introduced Russia as the main threat against the US, was completed before Bolton came to the White House.

The New York Times reported Friday that Bolton was going to use his upcoming trip to Russia to inform Russian leaders of Trump’s plans to exit the INF agreement. Under the terms of the treaty, withdrawal would take six months.

Speaking at a conference in Sochi on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would not be using nuclear weapons first in a possible military standoff.

“We have no concept of a pre-emptive strike,” he said. “[W]e expect to be struck by nuclear weapons, but we will not use them first.”

Arms control advocates argue that walking away from the INF before any detailed negotiations with Russia is premature.

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Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

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