Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is urging U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to save a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.
Gorbachev, in an op-ed for state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta Thursday, warned that U.S.-Russia relations are in the midst of a “severe crisis,” putting the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in danger of collapse.
Signed by Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the pact banned all Soviet and U.S. short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles and is credited with helping bring an end to the Cold War.
“If the system of curbing nuclear arms crumbles, and that is exactly what the collapse of the INF treaty can lead to, the consequences will be catastrophic,” Gorbachev said.
Describing the INF as the “most vulnerable” link in the effort to reduce nuclear weapons, Gorbachev stressed that saving the historic deal would send a “powerful signal” to other nations.
“It has turned out to be the most vulnerable link in the system of limiting and reducing weapons of mass destruction,” Gorbachev said. “If the INF treaty could be saved, it would be a powerful signal for the whole world that the biggest nuclear powers understand their responsibility and take their obligations seriously.”
Gorbachev also called on the world leaders to set up a U.S.-Russia summit similar to the kind seen prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“It’s totally abnormal for the presidents of nuclear powers to meet somewhere ‘on the sidelines’ (of an event) and that they have only met once,” Gorbachev wrote, discussing the G-20 summit in July.
Discussions regarding the INF have deteriorated in recent months as both countries have accused one another of violating the treaty. The 2010 New START treaty, which, among other things, requires the U.S. and Russia to equally limit the number of deployed warheads, has also been called in to question following Trump’s claim that the pact is a “one-sided” deal.
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