U.S. Withdraws from INF Treaty

The direct reason for withdrawal is discussed in The New Russian Cruise Missile – Geopolitical Implications. The INF treaty is discussed in (Arms Control Association) The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance .

The Russian side is presented by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s comment on anti-Russia attacks by the US over the INF Treaty. Quoting,

The Americans have repeatedly alleged that we are going beyond the framework of the INF Treaty that bans land deployment of cruise missiles with a range from 500 to 5,500 kilometres. But there is an interesting commonality with the notorious claims about “Russian meddling in US elections,” since they provide no real evidence. The only specific mentioned is the index of a Russian missile research project with a range much shorter than the claim suggests. Incidentally, the US can easily see this on its satellite images during field tests.

The above is contaminated with bullshit  denials of election meddling, but let’s consider the topical points. Quoting Russia,

“The only specific mentioned is the index of a Russian missile research project with a range much shorter than the claim suggests.”

The only known deployment of the cruise missile in question is at Kapustin Yar. With a range less than 500 km, it would reach only targets in Russia.  Quoting further,

“For example, one can plainly see launchers at the US antimissile base in Deveselu, Romania, whose specifications enable them to launch not only interceptor missiles but also strike missiles like Tomahawks.”

U.S.  vertical launch systems,  the MK41 and MK57, when in shipboard configuration, have the ability to fire both the SM-3 missile interceptor deployed in Romania and the Tomahawk. While the VLS systems deployed in Romania can physically accommodate the Tomahawk, a significant defense contract would be required for system compatibility. The Russian claim of violation refers not to a deployment, or capability, but to an undeployed potentiality.

Since U.S. suspicions of the SSC-8 date to 2013, the INF violations are actually a legacy of the Obama Administration.  It is likely that Russian adventurism is the consequence of a certain slackness in U.S. policy towards Russia that accompanied the war on terror. Following withdrawal from the treaty, the  planned U.S. response is something like a modernized, or stealth BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile.  Two interests conflict:

  • The desire to, in military terms, counter  the threat of the SSC-8 with one of similar characteristics, similar in role to the BGM-109G.
  • Political stability in Europe. The last  intermediate range nuclear weapon deployed in Europe was the Pershing II intermediate range ballistic missile. From 1981 on, the deployment (Wikipedia) catalyzed European antinuclear sentiment, challenging the solidarity of NATO. Quoting, “Two-thirds of West Germans opposed the deployment, according to a Gallup poll from November 1983.” Similar sentiments were associated with the BGM-109G.

Europeans are sensitive because Europe is so small. We  gain some illogical peace of mind with the thought that the U.S. land based deterrent is scattered in empty parts of the Midwest, where practically nobody lives. A ground launched cruise missile deployment to Europe would be like having our missiles in New Jersey.

The positive result of the five year Pershing deployment was the now abrogated  INF treaty. The missile was bargained away for a worthy cause. For a reprise of this history, Europeans would have to be at least as receptive to a new BGM-109G as they were of the Pershing II. Europeans are hospitable towards missile defense. This does not mean they will be as hospitable to a new offensive nuclear weapon.

There seems to be a principle of symmetry, requiring that we have equality or superiority of forces in every category. The SSC-8 is a cruise missile; therefore it requires a cruise missile  to balance it. This deserves challenge. The principle may exist only because bargaining is facilitated by similar bargaining chips.

The asymmetric option is a response in weapon  systems qualitatively different from the  Russian cruise missile.  There are so many U.S. weapons programs scraping for bucks that the alternatives are endless.

This might be a time for outside-the-box thinking. Some European states, at least Poland, might like to have nukes of their own, joining the U.K. and France, which have had their own for many years. Rather than fester as  a U.S. versus Europe issue, as the BGM-109G replacement might, political discord becomes internal to that state.  A degree of control over the nukes could be accomplished by EU oversight of  substances such as tritium, and maintenance facilities.

Take heart, brave Poles! Poland is Not Yet Lost. You can have your own nukes as foot warmers.

 

 

 

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