The Future of Arms Control

By Andy Weber & Christine Parthemore

We have an op-ed this week in The Hill on the ongoing crisis over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It is based in large part on private discussions we’ve had in recent months with current and former government officials from the United States, Russia, NATO and East Asian allies, and other European partners. One of our most unexpected findings:

[M]any European officials long ago gave up hope ago that the Trump administration will remain party to the INF Treaty. Worse, NATO-country officials who believe the INF already is lost expressed deep concern that trying to save it will further aggravate U.S.-Russian tensions. Their focus is shifting to managing the aftermath of an end to the INF Treaty in ways that avoid escalating crisis.

As we wrote, we believe Presidents Trump and Putin can and should still save the INF treaty. But no matter whether that happens, the current crisis over its future “must mark the starting point in a new future for global arms control.” This includes an urgent need to develop arms control concepts that can build on the security-enhancing legacy of INF whether it survives or not.

Arms control in the 21st Century will require new approaches aimed at helping to enhance security and stability in both Europe and the Asia, including many ideas that aren’t yet well developed. These may focus on types of weapons (as the INF Treaty did, in part), may begin with non-binding political agreements, or may begin with deals to keep particular classes of nuclear capabilities out of specific regions. Read more in our op-ed in The Hill, and stay tuned for further work on these issues.

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