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gabriel4_Sergei-MalgavkoTASS-via-Getty-Images_russian-missile Sergei MalgavkoTASS via Getty Images

Europe and the New Nuclear-Arms Race

With the near-certain demise of the US-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Europe is entering a potentially dangerous period. It must now try to apply some kind of brake to the new nuclear-arms race and gain time for negotiations.

BERLIN – One of the pillars of nuclear-arms control became history on February 2, with the expiry of the 60-day deadline that the United States had given Russia to save the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russia blithely let the deadline pass. But so did the European Union, abetted by Germany. Europe is now entering a potentially dangerous period and must play a much more active role in the nuclear-arms debate.

The INF Treaty prohibits the stationing of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Its near-certain demise dims prospects for extending the US-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty when it expires in 2021. And without a contractual nuclear-arms framework between Russia and the US, the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons cannot survive.

Non-proliferation depends on the two nuclear superpowers’ willingness to subject themselves to arms control and verification. If the US and Russia instead engage in a nuclear-arms build-up, smaller powers will follow suit, because they believe that doing so makes them invulnerable. North Korea and Iran are just the first examples of this.

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