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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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19 February 2019

Mikhail Gorbachev. A Nuclear Arms Race Will Produce No Winners

The fate of the INF treaty has politicians and ordinary people worried on every continent. I am also concerned, and not only because I signed that treaty with former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Dec. 1987. These events are yet another manifestation of the dangerous and destructive trends in world politics facing us today.

The main idea guiding us on the path to signing the original treaty was expressed in a joint statement with the United States, adopted at our first meeting in Geneva: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

That INF Treaty was the first step, and it was followed by others — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and mutual steps towards eliminating a significant part of all tactical nuclear weapons. The two states revised their military doctrines to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons, slashing their number by more than 80 percent from their highpoint during the Cold War.

The process started at that time had an affect beyond nuclear weapons alone. The Chemical Weapons Convention was signed in 1997 and the countries of Eastern and Western Europe agreed on a drastic reduction of their armed forces and weapons. This was the “peace dividend” from which everyone benefited — Europeans most of all — as a result of the end of the Cold War.

Ever since, the INF Treaty has served the security of our country, excluding the possibility of weapons capable of a “decapitation strike” being deploying near our borders.

I have to mention here that senior Russian officials sometimes criticized the treaty unfairly, lamenting the destruction of the missiles and claiming that they would still be useful to us. I always felt compelled to respond to such statements. 

In recent years, however, Russia has taken an unequivocal position in favor of preserving the INF Treaty. I hope this position reflects a deeper understanding of it's importance.

A great danger, however, now looms over all that we have achieved in the years since the end of the Cold War. The decision of the United States to withdraw from the INF Treaty threatens to reverse the progress made.

And this is not the first such step. The U.S. refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the country's unilateral decision in 2002 ended the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT).

Of the three pillars of global strategic stability — the ABMT, INFT, and START I — only one remains, the New START signed by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010, and its fate is unclear. Judging by statements that representatives of the U.S. administration have made, that, too, could “become a thing of the past.”

What has happened? What threat is compelling the United States to dismantle a system for limiting nuclear arms that has served the world for decades?

According to the text in the INF Treaty, “Each party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to withdraw to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from this Treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”

That is, a country taking the step of leaving the treaty should explain to the world community what has compelled it walk away from it.

Where is this threat to the “supreme interests” of the security of the U.S. — a country whose military spending is at least three times greater than that of all of its potential rivals? Has the U.S. communicated that threat to the world community, the public, and the UN Security Council? No, it has not.

The Moscow Times, 14.02.2019