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Editorial: U.S., Russia, China should hold dialogue toward nuclear disarmament

  • February 5, 2019
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

This is a dangerous decision that turns the clock back to the days of the nuclear arms race. The U.S. has declared that it will abrogate the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In response, Russia has announced that it will suspend its obligation to comply with the treaty. What they must do is to return to nuclear disarmament.


The U.S. argues that Russia has violated the INF treaty to develop and deploy intermediate-range missiles, and that is why it is withdrawing from the accord.


The U.S. is also growing wary of China with an eye on its rapid buildup of missile attack capability without being bound by the INF treaty. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo emphasizes: “There is no reason for the United States to give up on its decisive military advantage to China.” Russia also identifies China’s missile development as a threat.   


The U.S. and Russia are urging China to join a new multilateral framework that can replace the INF treaty, but China is not positive about this proposal. The U.S. and Russia should convince China and enter three-way talks on nuclear disarmament.


The INF Treaty is a landmark disarmament treaty as the U.S. and the former Soviet Union agreed for the first time to fully abolish specific types of nuclear weapons and accept on-the-spot inspections to reduce their nuclear arsenals.


The total number of nuclear weapons worldwide peaked in 1987, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the deal. According to Hans M. Kristensen, an expert at the Federation of American Studies, there were about 70,000 nuclear warheads worldwide, including decommissioned weapons back then.


As of last year, the number of nuclear warheads is still estimated at about 14,500, Kristensen says. For the sake of global safety, we must not stop abolishing nuclear weapons.


In 2010, the U.S. and Russia signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (new START) and have cut their deployed nuclear warheads to less than 1,550 each. But since then nuclear reduction has been halted.  


The U.S. and Russia should prevent their mutual distrust that emerged over the INF Treaty from causing a negative impact on the extension of the new START, which is due to expire 2021.


Unfortunately the reality is that a global nuclear arms race may erupt and continue to heat up. The U.S. has announced plans to develop “easy-to-use, smaller nuclear weapons.” Meanwhile, Russia is planning to deploy hypersonic missiles within the year.


The U.S.’ fiscal debts have snowballed since President Donald Trump adopted his signature tax-cut policy. The fiscal straits will go dire if the country continues to take a military expansion path.


Moreover, the U.S. will not be able to convince the DPRK to eliminate its nuclear weapons if it seeks to reinforce its nuclear capabilities.


The Russian economy stays stagnant due to economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe. In China, the economy is also slowing down and the wealth gap is growing. All countries should invest more money into the improvement of people’s lives than seeking military expansion.

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