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As arms treaty fails, big powers risk new missile race

14 0 0
19.08.2019

For those who worried about the risk of the Cold War ending in catastrophe, the early- to mid-1980s were the most alarming period since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

On both sides of the Iron Curtain, paranoia and alarm about the adversary's intentions was the order of the day. The United States and the Soviet Union were both deploying a new generation of medium-range nuclear rockets which experts worried could make it easier for a limited atomic war to escalate out of control.

The result, after almost a decade of diplomacy, was the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which culled an entire generation of missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km (310-3,400 miles). It forced Moscow and Washington to rely on longer-range ballistic missiles and air-launched weaponry to maintain their nuclear "balance of terror", making it easier for each side to track each other's actions and get early warning of an attack.

This crucial confidence-building measure opened the door to further detente between the superpowers and ushered in three decades in which worries of global nuclear war all but vanished. But last week, the treaty finally collapsed completely amid wider international tensions, particularly between Washington, Moscow and Beijing.

The result may be a resumption of the kind of medium-range missile arms race the original treaty halted. In some respects the race is already underway and this looks set to complicate the United States' relations with not only its........

© Japan Today