US' INF Treaty Withdrawal Raises ‘Fears of a Renewed Full-On Arms Race'

CC0 / / A frontal view of four B-61 nuclear free-fall bombs on a bomb cart
A frontal view of four B-61 nuclear free-fall bombs on a bomb cart - Sputnik International
US President Donald Trump's announcement at the State of the Union regarding Washington's departure from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is likely to open the doors wide for a "full-on arms race," Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste watchdog, told Sputnik.

"Fears of a renewed full-on arms race between the United States and now Russia and other countries," Kamps told Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear on Wednesday, explaining his takeaway from the Tuesday address.

"Not just an arms race between two superpowers, but a multipolar arms race, because what Trump has done by withdrawing from the INF Treaty is to have dismantled a half-century's worth of arms control, essentially."

​During his address, Trump told US lawmakers and Americans nationwide that the US was leaving the treaty as a result of Russia allegedly violating the terms of the 1987 agreement signed between former US President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Decades ago, the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capability," Trump said. "And while we followed the agreement and the rules to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms."

US nuclear weapons test in Nevada in 1957 - Sputnik International
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"It's been going on for many years," he claimed.

And so, with the US stepping away from the decades-old treaty, Trump explained that Washington now has the chance to to create a new agreement with China and other countries; however, if a new agreement isn't reached, the US will just work toward outspending and out-innovating everyone else.

"It's even worse, perhaps, than the Cold War," Kamps told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of the US government's stance on nuclear weapons.

"Look what's happening in Texas: a US nuclear warhead called the W76-1, a hydrogen bomb, is being retrofitted to become the W76-2, which means they're taking the hydrogen bomb component out, but they're leaving the… trigger in there. It would be about half as big as the Hiroshima blast if it were ever launched."

It's estimated that the bombing of Hiroshima instantly killed between 60,000 and 80,000 people on August 6, 1945. Many others died from the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

From right: Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. File photo - Sputnik International
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"What this is is the Trump administration trying to counter alleged development by Russia of a tactical nuclear weapon… in that sense we're getting closer to usability of nuclear weaponry," Kamps stressed.

Defense News reported that the first production unit of the new, low-yield W76-2 nuclear warhead is being manufactured at the Lone Star State's Pantax Plant and is expected to be delivered to the US Navy by the end of fiscal year 2019.

But the concern shouldn't solely be about the INF Treaty, according to Kamps. "The New START Treaty expires in 2021, and Trump and company have to decide to renew it," he told Becker. "Work has to begin now."

"If [the New START Treaty] goes away, too, it's like a whole new day in this regard, and we could see a full-on arms race between all these countries."

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