Column: Trump is dismantling nuclear arms control. Bad idea.

Column: Trump is dismantling nuclear arms control. Bad idea.

Almost unnoticed in the coronavirus crisis, President Trump is systematically demolishing a cornerstone of global stability: the system of nuclear arms control agreements between the United States and Russia. Last week, the Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed Russia, the United States and European countries to fly surveillance aircraft over each other’s territory to ensure no one was planning a sneak attack. Last year, the president pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, which prohibited the United States and Russia from stationing medium-range missiles in Europe. Next on his agenda is the most important remaining arms treaty, known as New START, which limits the United States and Russia each to 1,550 warheads for long-range missiles, bombers and submarines. The pact expires in February. If it is allowed to lapse, there will be no arms control agreement in force between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers for the first time since 1972 — almost half a century. White House officials don’t seem worried by that. Trump has called New START, which was negotiated by President Obama in 2010, “one-sided” and a “bad deal.” His arms negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, said last week that the administration may not extend the treaty unless verification provisions are improved. He charged that Russia has taken advantage of “loopholes” in the pact. If a new deal can’t be struck, he said, the United States is ready and willing to engage in a nuclear arms race. “We know how to ...
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