Share this page: 

  • World is facing the risk of the arms race being revived 
  • Extension of another important treaty is being called into question 
  • EU's task is to contribute to maintaining international peace and security 

With guests speakers from EEAS, NATO and the German Marshal Fund, SEDE discussed possible ways out after Russia and US have withdrawn from a key nuclear treaty.

As a consequence of the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the EU will have to make some strategic choices, to ensure Europe’s security, stressed Nathalie Loiseau, the Sub-Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE) Chair, during a debate dedicated to the post-INF non-proliferation regime.

"Arms control treaties do not belong to history. We are now facing the risk of the arms race being revived and our continent knows from experience how dangerous an escalation in the field of INF might be. The European Union must be part of necessary efforts to ensure the primacy of the law in the international order over the law of the strongest." pointed the SEDE Chair.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by the US and Russia, banned missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km, and was seen as one of the major pillars of the global arms control regime. The Treaty has been void since 2 August.

The latest developments call into question the willingness of the two super powers to extend another important treaty, the New Start. This treaty limits long-range nuclear weapons and will expire in February 2021. Also, since the end of the INF Treaty, Russia has deployed new missiles, which raises a question about how the US, EU and NATO should react. Deploying new missiles on European ground is one option, said Bruno Lété from The German Marshall Fund, adding that arms control seems to be out of fashion at the moment.

Director of NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre, William Alberque, stressed that in spite of everything, the dialogue between NATO and Russia still continues, and EEAS Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-proliferation Jacek Bylica called on the MEPs to “inject” the subject into their inter-parliamentary dialogues when dealing with interested countries.


Background

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then US President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The Treaty, which covers both nuclear and conventionally armed missiles, required both countries to destroy their stockpiles of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with an intermediate range. After years of allegations that the Russian Federation was breaching the agreement, in February 2019 US President Donald Trump set the 2 August deadline for the US to withdraw if Russia did not comply. Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended his country's own obligations to the treaty shortly afterwards.

The next SEDE meeting has been scheduled for 8 October.