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Europe and the New Nuclear-Arms Race

Summary:
With the near-certain demise of the US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Europe is entering a potentially dangerous period. It must now try to apply some kind of brake to the new nuclear-arms race and gain time for negotiations. BERLIN – One of the pillars of nuclear-arms control became history on February 2, with the expiry of the 60-day deadline that the United States had given Russia to save the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russia blithely let the deadline pass. But so did the European Union, abetted by Germany. Europe is now entering a potentially dangerous period and must play a much more active role in the nuclear-arms debate. Fred Dufour - Pool/Getty Images

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With the near-certain demise of the US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Europe is entering a potentially dangerous period. It must now try to apply some kind of brake to the new nuclear-arms race and gain time for negotiations.

BERLIN – One of the pillars of nuclear-arms control became history on February 2, with the expiry of the 60-day deadline that the United States had given Russia to save the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russia blithely let the deadline pass. But so did the European Union, abetted by Germany. Europe is now entering a potentially dangerous period and must play a much more active role in the nuclear-arms debate.

The INF Treaty prohibits the stationing of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Its near-certain demise dims prospects for extending the US-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty when it expires in 2021. And without a contractual nuclear-arms framework between Russia and the US, the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons cannot survive.

Non-proliferation depends on the two nuclear superpowers’ willingness to subject themselves to arms control and verification. If the US and Russia instead engage in a nuclear-arms build-up, smaller powers will follow suit, because they believe that doing so makes them invulnerable. North Korea and Iran are just the first examples of this.

An extension of the INF Treaty to prevent a new nuclear-arms race in Europe would have been worth fighting hard for. As the first – and, so far, only – true...

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