The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 was signed into by President Trump on August 13, 2018. The NDAA includes one-year moratorium on implementation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) between Moscow and Washington. The official version of this step is “to return Russia to verifiable compliance with the Treaty.” We cannot say this decision was a bombshell.
In March 2018 it became clear that for the first time since the end of the Cold War the Pentagon was mulling either a new submarine- or surface ship-based nuclear cruise missiles and low-yield nuclear ballistic missiles. The decision was taken to deter Russia and chill its ambitions in alleged deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles that violates an arms-control treaty between Russia and USA. And even then, there were voices in the Capitol who spoke for agreement’s exit, as the United States needed more medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles in order to respond decently to Moscow’s challenges.
One should note that these mysterious Russian missiles were firstly mentioned in the New York Times article, dated back to Feb. 14, 2017. The media outlet referred to a source in the White House who also had its own source in the CIA. Nevertheless, the article did not give any information about number or type of the missiles; only the dislocation of two battalions “of the prohibited cruise missiles.” According to the New York Times, one was located at Russia’s missile test site at Kapustin Yar in southern Russia near Volgograd, and the other was located at operational base somewhere in central Russia. A short time later there were versions that those were the Club-M Multi-Purpose Mobile Coastal Missile Systems; otherwise Russia had no other systems with similar characteristics. Sounds grotesque, doesn’t it? And it sounds even more grotesque when you need to pull out of a treaty which postpones doomsday of the mankind.
However, it seems that the Pentagon’s generals, who need more funds in Fiscal Year 19, considered the same way. To receive additional funds American military once again decided to develop medium-range and short-range ballistic cruise missiles, prohibited by the Treaty, and the “Russian missile threat” which remains glaring topic of western media, already talked everybody under the table.
A four-star Navy admiral Philip Davidson said: I believe the INF treaty today unfairly puts the United States at a disadvantage and places our forces at risk because China is not a signatory.
Trump’s decision looks logic taking into account such statements.
So, here are two main reasons why Washington may exit the nuclear treaty and start developing its nuclear potential in 2019:
- China has expressed no interest in joining the INF Treaty, and this is an unacceptable option for the United States.
- Russia was first to violate the agreement.
If the first reason, with some assumptions, appears justified, then within the context of continued Washington’s Treaty violations, accusations against Moscow look questionable.
First, it goes about the use of a whole range of medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles as targets. For example, Hera target missile with its operational range of 680 miles is widely used during anti-missile system testing. Thus, American industry preserves its scientific and technical potential in the area of prohibited arms, as well as its army gain experience of its operation. All this may be useful in 2019 when the Pentagon will have new prototypes of intermediate-range and short-range ballistic missiles along with experienced personnel.
Secondly, the deployment of the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (Mk 41 VLS) in Poland is a direct violation of the INF Treaty. It takes a few hours to replace SM-3 with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) and reprogram launch control system. The ability to deploy sea-launched cruise missiles on a ground-based platform is what the CIA blames Russia for. However, Washington did the same in 2008 after it reached the Ballistic Missile Defense agreement with Warsaw. This happened 4 years before the Russian 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles were accepted for service.