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How to Respond to Russia’s INF Treaty Violation

Published by RealClearDefense

By Gary Schmitt and James Cunningham

When The New York Timesreported that Russia had likely deployed a nuclear-armed cruise missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, declared the treaty “in tatters” and the deployment a lesson “about the price of not confronting aggression.” Unable to generate a policy response from the Obama administration, Chairman Thornberry and his committee have now inserted provisions in their annual defense policy bill directing a more controversial response: not only must the administration establish a program to develop a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) and review options for modifying existing missiles for this purpose, but it also must conduct a 15 month review of Russian actions to determine if the Federation has, in each of three consecutive 120-day periods, been in violation of the treaty. Should the answer be yes, the bill states “the United States, as a matter of law, would no longer be bound by the prohibitions set forth in Article VI of the INF Treaty,” meaning the U.S. would be free to test and deploy banned missiles.

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