Trump suspends arms treaty, citing Chinese, Russian threats

Trump suspends arms treaty, citing Chinese, Russian threats, by Deb Riechmann.

The Trump administration is pulling the plug on a decades-old nuclear arms treaty with Russia, lifting what it sees as unreasonable constraints on competing with a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China. …

In explaining his decision, which he had foreshadowed months ago, President Donald Trump accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Moscow denies it is in violation and has accused Washington of resisting its efforts to resolve the dispute. …

“We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other,” Trump said. Other officials said the treaty could still be saved if Russia reverses course and returns to compliance, but that window of opportunity will close in six months when the American withdrawal is due to take effect.

The Trump decision reflects his administration’s view that the arms treaty was an unacceptable obstacle to more forcefully confronting not only Russia but also China. China’s military has grown mightily since the treaty was signed, and the pact has prevented the U.S. from deploying weapons to counter some of those being developed in Beijing.

Leaving the INF pact, however, risks aggravating relations with European allies, who share the administration’s view that Russia is violating the treaty but who have not endorsed a U.S. withdrawal. …

“China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming years as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in testimony Tuesday to Congress.