Question: The US Secretary of State officially announced in the beginning of this month the withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty- the reduction of medium and short-range missiles) signed with Russia in 1987. What are the dimensions of this American withdrawal? Did Russia really violate the treaty or is it merely a US excuse for withdrawal? If Russia did not violate the treaty, then what are America’s goals of the withdrawal and why did it withdraw? May Allah reward you with the good.
Answer: to get a clear answer, we review the following:
First: Yes, “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the United States would suspend its commitment to the short and medium-range missile embargo with Russia. He said: “…the United States provided Russia and other Treaty Parties with formal notice that the United States will withdraw from the INF Treaty in six months.” He confirmed that his country will suspend its obligations under the Nuclear Power Mid-Range as of Saturday. “He threatened that “In accordance with customary international law, the United States has suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty,” (state.gov; Arabic 21, 1/2/2019). This American announcement was expected after the United States raised doubts months ago about Russia’s commitment to the Treaty INF. Trump said: “The US would not let Russia “go out and do weapons [while] we are not allowed to.” (BBC 21/10/2018)
Russia was shocked by this move. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “This will be a very serious step and will provoke sharp condemnation.” He told Russian TASS News Agency that the treaty is important for global security in an atmosphere of arms race and in order to preserve strategic peace. Ryabkov condemned what he called “US attempts to get concessions through blackmail” (BBC, 21/10/2018). After being officially informed of the US withdrawal, Russia responded with a similar move. “In a press briefing in Ashgabat,” Lavrov said: “President Vladimir Putin has set our position that we will respond in the same way,” adding: “The Americans have suspended their commitment to the treaty, and we have done the same, and at the end of the six-month period stipulated in the treaty, and as a result of the official US memorandum on Washington’s withdrawal from the treaty, we will terminate it.” (RT 6/2/2019). Thus it is clear that the United States is actually withdrawing from that agreement, even before the expiration of the six months, and has announced that it will begin research and missile programs prevented under the Treaty…
Second, the reason for the withdrawal of the United States is what it has declared; that by Russia’s manufacturing of the 9m729 missile, the agreement has been violated. This is not true and doubtful. Russia declared that its missile has a range of 480 kilometers, i.e. under the 500 km range that is prohibited in the agreement. The agreement stated the prohibition of short-range missiles of 500-1000 km, and medium range of 1000-5500 km. Russian missiles, short-range and medium-sized, do not directly threaten US territory. Rather the Soviet Union, which was surrounded by many enemies, produced large quantities of these missiles that particularly can reach Western Europe. When America established Pershing and Cruz missiles in the 1980s, in Western Europe, the Soviet Union responded by setting up S-20 medium-range missiles. Europe became the most likely arena for nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, so it panicked and pressed for concluding the agreement to reduce medium range missiles.
Third, looking at that American step at the time, it is possible to understand the seriousness of American policy. On the one hand, America has increased its security bond with Western Europe and made the fate of the European continent dependent on Washington. On the other hand, America has seen Gorbachev’s decrepit disarmament moves since the early 1980s, and after negotiations for disarmament and ratifying the agreement between the two countries, America has aimed it especially on short and medium-range missiles. So that the greater loss is of the Soviet Union, which destroyed 1,800 nuclear missiles, that it financed, while America destroyed only 800 rockets, i.e. less than a half of what Moscow destroyed. “By May 1991 the two parties announced the destruction of more than 2600 missiles in implementation of the Treaty, Russia’s share was about 1800 rockets.” (Al Jazeera.net 2/2/2019). In other words, the Treaty on the Destruction of Missiles had ended in 1991, and the commitment to the Convention, that is, to refrain from manufacturing nuclear missiles similar to it, remained.
Fourth, Given the US strategy of the Trump administration and partly accepted by the previous Obama administration, it can be seen that global developments have forced Washington to reconsider the overall US policy… The deep issues that the US strategy aims to address are:
1 – The American economy: America saw that its economy as one of the pillars of its international grandeur has weakened internationally… However, it noticed that Europe is economically strong because it does not spend on security enough, as it is reassured by the American security umbrella… On the one hand, no less important than Europe, China’s rise was very rapid. It (China) built a first-class economy in just two decades, and built monetary institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, threatening the status of international institutions built by America, such as the World Bank … These facts and international economic volatility has made America question the future of its economy as a cornerstone of its world domination. So it focused on its military might revealing its nuclear and missile claws to frighten the competing countries. America under Trump did not hide its goals. The American president said, “…his country would increase its nuclear arsenal so “the rest come to their senses”” (CNN; Al-Youm As-Sabi’ 6/11/2018)
2- European trends against America: French President Macron called for the establishment of a European army to stand up against Russian and Chinese threats, even the American. Trump was surprised at how Europe can think that America poses a threat to its security when it is the one that who shades and protects its security and spends for its protection. Europe is opposed to America in many areas such as the climate agreement, the US war on Iraq, and the struggles for influence in Arab, Islamic and African regions, and Europe cooperates significantly with China … For all this, America wants the Russian threat to restore Europe’s senses. By withdrawing from its agreement with Russia, Russia will be forced into manufacturing missiles and the Russian nuclear threat will be relegated on Europe, the closest to Russia where the treaty was a form of stopping the nuclear competition on European soil. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement quoted by Reuters, “For 30 years the Treaty was a cornerstone of Europe’s security” (Sputnik, Russian, 21/10/2018).
Heiko Mass told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, “His country will strongly oppose any move to deploy new medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe,” in an interview published on Wednesday, the agency quoted him saying, “Under no circumstances should Europe become a stage for a rearmament debate.” (Reuters; Al-Wifaq Online 28/12/2018) The French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier that “the withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty on the reduction of medium and short-range missiles will endanger the European security. Macron told French radio, Europe 1 French, on Tuesday, “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty…. who is the main victim?” (Al-Youm As-Sabi’ 6/11/2018).
3- Russian policy and the American pressure on it: After Trump administration came to power in America, hardly a month passes without increasing the American pressure on Russia, from sanctions and a close-up of NATO’s military structure from the borders of Russia, the annexation of new NATO countries (Macedonia), Russia’s involvement in Syria, and the installation of anti-missile missile system at its eastern border (in South Korea), not the last American pressure is bringing to life the Japanese claims to the Kuril Islands and the crisis of Russian-Japanese relations… what made America more aggressive against Russia is Russia’s response to it in Syria. America wanted to shift Russia’s international service to America to the China’s surrounds. Russia understands this very well. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was frank when he confirmed, that the United States will not be able to turn Russia into a tool to serve its interests and to confront China. He said, “They are working on making us the enemy to impose discipline on Europe and strengthen the Euro-Atlantic links, for example, they are now discussing seriously how Russia will use China to benefit them … in their desire to make us a tool to serve the interests of the United States.” (RT 24/12/2018)
Russia, after the success of the US involving it in Syria to serve the interests of the US is under great pressure to be dragged against China, and this is a broad line in the new US policy on the Russian trend… By the withdrawal of America from the Treaty of medium and short missiles with Russia, it increases the pressure on Russia on the one hand, and on the one hand it is straining its relations with China: increasing pressure on Russia is by pushing it into a new arms race that its economy is not capable of, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “We do not want to engage in an arms race with the United States while it is trying to drag us to that.” (RT Arabic 7/2/2019) As for the strained relationship with China, America by forcing Russia, to wage an arms race in the medium and short strategic weapons will create great suspicion in China bordering Russia. All Chinese territory will be in the range of those missiles, that ended Russia by 1991, and then this gives rise to tension between China and Russia.
4- China’s great rise and what America needs to counter it: The new US strategy, that has been in place since Obama’s second term, puts China at the top of US priorities. Trump has stepped up this priority. He is fighting a trade war with China to stop its rise, especially since China’s powerful economic power makes it capable of building a strong army not lacking in nuclear weapons, and it can be developed and cause more dangers to American power and hegemony. China’s announced military budget ($ 228 billion) is larger than the military budgets of these following four countries to China (Russia, Britain, France and Germany in total) and America does not rule out the possibility that China is concealing some of its military programs, as its economy prepares it for more military spending. On the one hand, on the other hand, America, strained by the economic war with China, because of the convergence of the two economies in strength, it wants to move its efforts to curb China’s growth into a military arena in which it is decisively superior compared to China.
That is why America wants to break the restrictions (the missile treaty with Russia), which prevents it from surrounding China with the medium and short range nuclear weapons it can install in South Korea, Japan and other countries around China … In other words, it wants to dispel Chinese economic power by pushing it into arms race. China is manufacturing more medium and short-range missiles in response to possible US moves in the surrounding areas of China, at a time when America is not only exploiting its economic potential but also that of Japan and South Korea in the arms race of the Far East. This pushed Chinese economy to fall from its current rank.
Fifth: In conclusion, the long-term American objectives become clear by withdrawing from the missile agreement with Russia as follows:
1- With the decline of the US economy and the weakness of its effectiveness as a major tool of American hegemony, especially with the growing Chinese economy and its rival to the American one, as well as the European competition, America has decided to increase its strategic military capabilities that no one rivals, to resolve and establish its international hegemony in Europe and with Russia and China.
2- With the growing European division and Europe’s political clashes with America in many international issues, America has decided to bring back the Russian threat to burden Europe’s side again, just as it was during the Soviet era, by creating a new arms race with Russia to force European countries to resort to the American nuclear umbrella to protect it from Russia, and thus accept Washington’s new terms such as increasing military spending and ensuring its survival under US leadership.
3- Increasing the pressure on Russia, and threatening the current strategic position by a new arms race that Russia cannot bear, and forcing it to take positions that do not appeal to China, which cause a rift between the two countries. Under the new strategic position imposed by Washington’s withdrawal from the treaty, Russia has two choices: one is more bitter than the other, either to go along with the failed arms race that reveals its limited strategic capabilities, moving closer to France and Britain’s position in terms of strategic capabilities, or to respond to the American pressure so that it can ‘save face’ thus maintain the international greatness that is fully dependent on the acceptance of America, in exchange for following America to serve its objectives in the surroundings of China.
4- On the Chinese side, America’s goals of withdrawing from its treaty with Russia may be in the number one priority. America wants to control China’s military capabilities, and it does not want to be surprised by those capabilities, as it was surprised by the Chinese economy’s rapid growth… This would be by regulating these capabilities, by making treaties so that its growth is under the eyes and sight of America, or force China to embark on a strategic arms race in the Far East. A race that America is superior on, and make it a powerful tool in breaking the strength of the Chinese economy, and thus pushing it towards spiraling downwards.
Sixth: In conclusion, what is heart wrenching is that the Muslims are far from the arena of this international conflict, they are not involved! Rather the rulers of destruction in the Islamic countries have become more responsive to America particularly and the West in general to prevent the giant of Islam from emerging… But the Islamic Ummah’s increasing vitality towards Islam and rejection of the methods of the secular rulers and the movements against them, confirm that the era of oppressive rule does not have long to go, and will be replaced by the Khilafah Rashida State (rightly guided Caliphate) by the hands of sincere workers and achieve the Messenger’s ﷺ glad-tiding:
«ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكاً جَبْرِيَّةً فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةً عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ ثُمَّ سَكَتَ» “then there will be oppressive rule (جبرية ملكًا) for as long as Allah wills, then he will remove it when He wills, and then there will be Khilafah upon the Prophetic method.”
And then the light of the Khilafah will shine on earth again and the Kafir colonizers will withdraw with their evils to their homes, and the Islamic Ummah will return as the leader of the world away from evil and its people.
وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * بِنَصْرِ اللَّهِ يَنْصُرُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ
“And that day the believers will rejoice * In the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful”
07 Jumada II 1440 AH