Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (L) talks to President Ronald Reagan (C) and President-elect George Bush (R) on December 7, 1988.

Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (L) talks to President Ronald Reagan (C) and President-elect George Bush (R) on December 7, 1988.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump said he’ll withdraw from a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia called the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement. Trump said the U.S. will pull out of the INF because Russia has violated the treaty (something former President Barack Obama also accused the Russians of doing, back in 2014).

Here’s some analysis From the BBC:

Concern about Russia’s development and deployment of a missile system that breaches the INF treaty predates the Trump administration. But the president’s decision to walk away from the agreement marks a significant setback for arms control.
Many experts believe that negotiations should have continued to try to bring the Russians back into compliance. It is, they fear, part of the wider unravelling of the whole system of arms control treaties that helped to curb strategic competition during the Cold War.
Other factors too may have played into President Trump’s decision. This was a bilateral treaty between Washington and Moscow. China was free to develop and deploy intermediate range nuclear missiles. Some in the Trump administration feel that the INF treaty places them at a growing disadvantage in their developing strategic rivalry with Beijing.

Former Russian head of state Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the move. He was one of the signatories to the treaty, along with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Why is the INF significant and why did Trump say he’s going to ditch the treaty? What was it like when former presidents Reagan and Gorbachev hashed out the deal in Iceland? Do these agreements even matter in a time of nuclear non-proliferation?

Guests

  • Ken Adelman Former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and former U.N. Ambassador; author, Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War; @adelman

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