regan gorbachev INF missile treaty
© Dennis Paquin / Reuters
USA's præsident, Ronald Reagan og den sovjettiske præsident Mikhail Gorbachev underskriver traktaten om begrænsningen af kernevåbenbærende mellemdistanceraketter (INF) den 8. december, 1987.
Denne uge markerer 30 års jubilæet for INF traktaten mellem USA og Sovjetunionen, en handel som førte til ødelæggelsen af tusindvis af missiler og satte farten op på den kolde krig. Nu lader USA til at ville torpedere aftalen.

INF traktaten, som står for (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces), blev underskrevet i december 1987. Den sovjettiske leder Mikhail Gorbachev rejste til Washington for at sætte sin signatur ved siden af den amerikanske præsident Ronald Reagans, hvilket ledte til en en hidtil uset reduktion i de to kernevåbenmagters arsenaler.

Traktaten dække missiler i to rækkeviddeklasser: kort (500-100 km) og mellem (1000-5000) km, med både konventionelle og atomare ladninger, men kun de med landbaserede affyringsramper. Siden dengang har yderligere produktion og brug af de to missiltyper været forbudt.

Kommentar: Delvist oversat af fra US appears set ditch the INF missile treaty, which effectively ended Cold War 30 years ago
Uanset hvordan man ser situationen, om det er som beskrevet i denne artikel eller som i The looming end of the INF Treaty eller Chinese missile arsenal presents strategic problem, says US official som skriver:
"From a DoD [Department of Defense] perspective, it's about 85% of Chinese missiles that would be INF non-compliant,"
så er overholdelsen af INF traktaten i stigende grad en illusion. Hvorvidt diplomater vælger at erklære den for helt død er nu et politisk spørgsmål.

The treaty came into force on June 1, 1988. Over the following three years, the US destroyed 846 of its missiles and 32 launch sites, and the USSR destroyed 1,846 missiles and 117 sites. Each sent numerous inspectors to one another's sites to confirm compliance.

The deal brought much-needed detente to an atmosphere of tense, Cold War stand-off, and allowed Europe, which housed much of the American arsenal, to breathe a sigh of relief.
Pershing missile INF treaty
© Herman Pieterse / Agence France-Presse
Young Dutch youngsters demonstrate against the deployment of US Pershing cruise missiles in the Netherlands, 29 October 1983
Signing the INF was widely seen a gesture of good will by Mikhail Gorbachev, seeing as it dealt a stronger blow to the Soviets' national defense than to the Americans'. Apart from the fact that the arsenal the USSR destroyed was over twice as large (it even threw some 400km-range missiles into the mix), the deal didn't affect aircraft- and sea-based missiles, an area where the US had a clear strategic advantage at the time. A lot of Soviet military brass were understandably unhappy about Gorbachev's decision to put global stability above the USSR's national safety.

Another problem with the INF treaty was that other nuclear-armed nations were never party to it - including US allies France and the UK, as well as China. In spite of the flaws, Russia never suggested relaxing the treaty's limitations, focusing instead on developing sea- and air-based arms of its own. Neither did it threaten to ditch the deal - until the US pushed it to.

Threats and accusations

Fast-forward 30 years, and the US is accusing Russia of violating the INF and is preparing sanctions for those supposedly involved in the breach. According to Washington's vague claims, Russia has secretly developed intermediate-range missiles that can be fired from the tactical missile system Iskander-M, deployed along the country's western borders.

Russia has its own, rather clearly-defined issues with how the US interprets the INF treaty. Moscow has pointed to a series of ballistic missiles that are used in the US as targets for anti-missile system tests, as being in violation. It also believes the INF should cover heavy combat drones, a staple of American air power. The drones, Russia argues, fall under the definition of cruise missile outlined in the treaty, being "an unmanned, self-propelled vehicle that sustains flight through the use of aerodynamic lift over most of its flight path."
soviet Pioneer missile INF treaty
© Anton Denisov / Sputnik
Soviet intermediate-range missile RSD-10 Pioneer (NATO reporting name SS-20 Saber) in a military museum
But most of all Russia is worried about America's capability to launch Tomahawk missiles from land-based anti-missile systems stationed in Europe. Such launchers have already been deployed in Romania and are earmarked for location in Poland. Their deployment itself is a result of Washington torpedoing another missile-related agreement, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 2002, coincidentally, a few days after it, too, turned 30.

While accusing Russia of violating the INF treaty, the US is already developing a new missile deployed once the deal is dead.

Russia has vowed to observe the INF treaty as long as the US does. Should Washington choose to pull out like it did from the ABM deal, though, the response will be "immediate and mirror-like," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October 2017.