Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

US confirms pull out from INF treaty


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

Mains level:  USA’s disregard of bilateral and multilateral treaties


  • The United States of America will pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, confirmed Russian authorities.


  1. Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the treaty (INF) already in October.
  2. Through high-level bilateral channels it was confirmed that this decision was final and there wasn’t any attempt to initiate dialogue.

Provisions of the treaty

  1. Under the INF treaty, the US and Soviet Union agreed not to develop, produce, possess or deploy any ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles that have a range between 500 and 5,500 km.
  2. It exempted the air-launched and sea-based missile systems in the same range.
  3. The INF treaty helped address the fears of an imminent nuclear war in Europe.
  4. It also built some trust between Washington and Moscow and contributed to the end of the Cold War.

Loopholes in the treaty

  1. It left the other nuclear weapon powers free to develop ground-based intermediate-range forces
  2. In the age of nuclear superpowers, it did not seem to matter.
  3. Since then, many countries have developed missiles in the range of 500 to 5,500 km, including India, Pakistan and North Korea.
  4. Nearly 90 per cent of China’s vast missile armoury — estimated at around 2,000 rockets — is in the intermediate range and would be illegal if Beijing were to be a part of the INF treaty.

Root cause of USA’s withdrawal

  1. Although the US cites Russian violations of the INF treaty as the immediate cause for the withdrawal, coping with China’s massive rocket force appears to be the more important reason for the decision.
  2. The expansive Chinese land-based intermediate range missile forces threaten the American naval ships deployed in the Western Pacific and target US military bases in Japan.
  3. The vulnerability of American military presence in the Pacific to Chinese missiles, in turn, undermines the credibility of American security commitment to its Asian allies.
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