International Relations Multilateral Prelims cum Mains

U.S. to pull out of Russia missile pact

The News

  • S. President confirmed that the U.S. would pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.



  • The U.S. administration, under former President Barack Obama, raised the issue of Russia testing a ground-launched cruise missile with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.
  • The Russians denied the allegations and raised counter-allegations of the U.S. installing missile defence systems in Europe.
  • While the two countries failed to find a resolution using the dispute resolution mechanism in the treaty, the U.S. continued to remain party to the treaty under pressure from its European allies.
  • S. Defense Secretary James Mattis had told NATO Ministers earlier in October that the U.S. would withdraw from the INF if Russia did not roll-back its Novator missiles.
  • In October 2018, President Donald Trumpannounced that the US will withdraw from the treaty.
  • The Russian government warned the U.S. against such a withdrawal.


Highlights of the news

  • Trump accuses Moscow of violating Cold War-era- Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by deploying Novator missile.
  • At issue is Russia’s alleged development and deployment of the Novator9M729 missile (also known as the SSC-8) that could strike Europe at short notice, an allegation that Russia has repeatedly denied.
  • US say that Russia has violated the INF agreement, they’ve been violating it for many years, so US is going to terminate the agreement.


About Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty 

  • Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, a crucial Cold War-era treaty banning the development, testing and possession of short and medium range ground-launched nuclear missiles with a range of 500-5,000 km.
  • It was signed in Washington, President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 8 December 1987, the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on 27 May 1988 and came into force on 1 June 1988.
  • The INF Treaty eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range).
  • The treaty did not cover sea-launched missiles.
  • By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.
  • The treaty, signed in 1987, was central to ending the arms race between the two superpowers, and protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attacks.


About Novator 9M729 missile of Russia

  • The 9M729 is by some accounts a variant of the 9M728 missiles, and its improved version – an extended-range missile – a new land-launched “Garnet.”
  • The 9M729 SSC-X-8 is a long-range ground-based cruise missile system.
  • From the report of the 2014 GosNIIP – “management system for 9M728 / 9M729 missiles and its improved version” has passed state tests.
  • The missile’s assessed range is between 300 miles and 3,400 miles — the distance covered under the landmark INF treaty that banned an entire class of intermediate-range missiles.
  • The missile is made by the normal aerodynamic scheme with wings folded in the fuselage of the missile in the transport position.
  • The missile is equipped with a starting solid propellant, which fires after the launch.
  • The control system and guidance of the cruise missile is presumably inertial control system (autopilot) with Doppler sensors drift angle correction according to satellite navigation systems GLONASS and GPS.
  • At the final stage it may use active radar homing.
  • There is speculation that the missile is a surface option CBRC X-101 with a range of over 5,500 km [about 3,000 nm].
  • Creation and testing of such missiles in the ground form is recognized by Western observers in violation of the Treaty on the Reduction of INF.


Impact of the move

  • The withdrawal will allow the U.S. new weapon options in the Pacific in its efforts to counter China’s growing influence.
  • There are also concerns that the treaty’s end could mark the beginning of a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia.
  • It has increased the risk for western European countries.


Way forward

  • Withdrawing from any treaty is never a permanent solution, there is need to make efforts for resolution of disputes within the scope of the treaty.
  • If not solved by the internal dispute redressal mechanism, outside efforts should be taken, all the stakeholders must come together to reach a middle ground.
  • In this case, Russia, America and the European countries should come forward for discussion and resolve the issue between them.

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