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Europe and the new nuclear arms race

9 4 1

BERLIN - One of the pillars of nuclear arms control became history on Feb. 2, with the expiry of the 60-day deadline that the United States had given Russia to save the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Russia blithely let the deadline pass. But so did the European Union, abetted by Germany. Europe is now entering a potentially dangerous period and must play a much more active role in the nuclear-arms debate.

The INF treaty prohibits the stationing of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Its near-certain demise dims prospects for extending the U.S.-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty when it expires in 2021. And without a contractual nuclear-arms framework between Russia and the U.S., the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons cannot survive.

Non-proliferation depends on the two nuclear superpowers’ willingness to subject themselves to arms control and verification. If the U.S. and Russia instead engage in a nuclear arms build-up, smaller powers will follow suit, because they believe that doing so makes them invulnerable. North Korea and Iran are just the first examples of this.

An extension of the INF treaty to prevent a new nuclear arms race in Europe would have been worth fighting hard for. As the first — and, so far, only — true disarmament agreement, it gave the continent previously unheard-of security from nuclear confrontation. But instead of high-level summits and shuttle diplomacy to rescue the treaty, all we got were whistle-stop efforts.

The chances of saving the INF........

© The Japan Times