Trump's decision to pull out from INF aimed at bolstering America's global military deployment

Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty reflects his elaborate thinking about his country's global military deployment, amid rising tensions with Russia and China, according to an expert.

Over the weekend, Trump confirmed that he will pull the United States out of the arms control treaty, which was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 with a goal to ban ground-launch nuclear missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers. The INF treaty led to the elimination of approximately 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles and an end to a dangerous nuclear standoff between the United States and former Soviet Union.

"The US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces would have a great impact on the international strategic situation," said Hong Yuan, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who describes the INF treaty as a key cornerstone of the global efforts in nuclear nonproliferation and arms control.

Hong, also secretary-general of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation Studies, analyzed the reasons behind the withdrawal, saying that the move could let the United States feel free to deploy missiles in the Western Pacific Ocean, where China has been expanding its military presence.

Many international observers believe that China is interested in the open waters of the Western and Southern Pacific Ocean because of military and scientific reasons. China plans to enhance its surveillance of the Western Pacific Ocean with US military force concentrations in Guam and further afield in Hawaii in mind, which can be applied to Chinese marine scientific activities in the waters.

"The United States has gained advantage in the number of ocean-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Meanwhile, it wants a corresponding advantage in ground-launch short- and medium-range missiles. So, quitting the INF treaty would allow the United States to achieve its goals in the Western Pacific Ocean," said Hong.

Due to the increasing demand for national defense, China has greatly developed its short-range and medium-range missiles and has been dubbed as "the world's biggest owner of the most advanced medium-range missiles", said Hong.

The announcement by Trump to withdraw the United States from the INF treaty comes as Washington is at odds with Beijing and Moscow. China and Russia appear to have forged a closer political-military partnership as their relations with the United States in the era of Trump are severely strained.

To date, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, with Trump threatening to increase the tariff rate to 25 percent from 10 percent on most of those Chinese imports by the end of the year if Beijing refuses to change its trade practices.

"The progressive strategic move [referring to the withdrawal from the INF treaty] would pose a big challenge to the relatively stable triangle relationship between the United States, China and Russia. For China, the US intention of gaining absolute advantage in military will badly hit the China-US relationship," said Hong.

As the INF treaty has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades, the withdrawal would increase the possibility that wars would happen in the European continent, said Hong, predicting that it would be strongly rejected by European countries.

"The gate of the hell would open if the United States continues to have its full swing. And other cold war would break out if a large-scale arms race begins globally," warned Hong.


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