No Chance to Re-Negotiate INF and JCPOA before 2021

In 2018, US President Donald Trump decided to walk away from the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and to withdraw from the 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which the Obama administration had negotiated with Iran alongside the other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Donald Trump, while still on the campaign trail during the US presidential elections in 2016, denounced the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever” and publicly promised to withdraw the US from the JCPOA unless “the deal’s disastrous flaws” were fixed. 

In autumn 2018 President Trump announced his intention to completely “terminate” the INF Treaty, alleging repeated Russian violations. In the meantime, the Russian government declared its readiness to remain open to resuming talks on saving the INF Treaty. Russia claims that the INF Treaty has been violated by the US 95 times. In the end, both countries officially suspended their treaty obligations. The INF Treaty’s demise reflects a fundamental shift in the way the current US administration views arms control.

European Security and Strategic Stability
Sergei Oznobishchev
Neither Europe, nor the world as a whole will be left without arms control for the simple reason that it meets the interests of all countries involved in the process. Arms control boosts security and predictability while cutting defense spending. Moreover, there is years-long positive experience and a huge layer of functional legacy in this sphere.

From the US standpoint, the message to the world seems to be that “responsible cooperation on nuclear arms development does not work.” The dialogue with North Korea further reinforces this message from a US standpoint. Thus, for the European Union, the message should also be clear: European nations like France, Germany and the UK could coax the US and Russia to come back to the table only theoretically before 2020, and during the US election campaign. Under the current Trump administration, negotiations to launch new nuclear deals in general do not seem likely. 

Additionally, President Trump has stressed the importance of modernising the US nuclear arsenal, advancing a $1.2 trillion proposal. Thus, President Trump has engaged in an attempt to deliver on promises to “strengthen and expand” and “modernize and rebuild” the US nuclear forces, at the risk of a new arms race.

Five Ways to Save INF’s Legacy
Ulrich Kühn
Not only in Washington and Moscow, many analysts and experts argue these days that the impending demise of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty forecasts the end of arms control in general and a new round of nuclear competition – with the big difference that the new arms race will be less about numbers and more about quality, and that it will involve China as well.

In April 2018 John Bolton, a “serial arms control killer,” arrived at the White House as National Security Advisor; he has never met an arms control treaty or agreement he has not wished to dismantle. Just a month after Bolton replaced McMaster, the US withdrew from the JCPOA with Iran, Germany, the EU, and the four other members of the UN Security Council. The JCPOA is a multinational agreement that went into effect in July 2015. It subjected Iran’s nuclear development activities to the strict monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for sanctions relief. The JCPOA peacefully resolved an international dispute that had raged for twelve years, and was acclaimed as a victory for the multilateral diplomacy that had contributed to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The EU openly declared its firm support for the JCPOA in August 2018 – together with Russia and China, which also urged the US to stay in the pact with Iran in order to freeze the Iranian nuclear programme. The EU urged Iran to stay in the pact and stick to the rules.

Regarding the INF Treaty, it is up to the US, Russia and perhaps China, to reach an agreement to launch a “New INF Treaty”. A new US administration could be ready to re-negotiate this treaty after the next US presidential elections. Relating to the JCPOA, the EU together with Russia and China could re-negotiate and elaborate an adapted proposal with Iran, which could lead to an updated agreement with the new US administration.

JCPOA in Сrisis: What Can the Europeans and Russia Do?
Hamidreza Azizi
One year after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal (JAPOA) with Iran and as a result of Washington’s campaign of maximizing pressures on the Islamic Republic, which has blocked Iran’s access to the real benefits of the deal, Tehran decided to decrease its commitments under the JCPOA.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.