The United States' withdrawal today (August 2, 2019) from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has elicited criticism from many quarters, including from the leader who signed the landmark agreement on behalf of the Soviet Union in 1987. “Do they really not understand in Washington what this could lead to?” former General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev told the Interfax news agency.
The INF required destruction of US and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and their launchers and associated support structures and equipment; it was long considered central to the East-West arms control regime. In 2018, I asked a variety of global security experts for their views on the proposed US pullout, and what might be done to deal with intermediate-range nuclear weapons, if or when the United States ultimately left the INF. Their views are, most unfortunately, at least as relevant now that the INF lies in the dustbin of history as they were then.