President Donald Trump's announced intention of withdrawing the US from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is but the latest move by Washington in undoing decades of hard-won arms controls agreements.
The US unilaterally scrapped the Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) Treaty back in 2002 under then-President GW Bush. That breach of a decades-old treaty has led to the installation of American missile systems in Europe ever-closer to Russian territory, as the US-led NATO military alliance relentlessly expanded eastwards.
If Trump goes ahead with pulling the US out of the INF, that will leave only one remaining pillar in the arms control architecture, the START Treaty limiting the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons. START is due to expire in 2021 and several hawkish US politicians are urging no replacement.
No wonder then that Trump's unravelling of the nuclear non-proliferation regime is unnerving many people, including NATO allies in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly phoned Trump, imploring that the INF is vital for European security. Macron's views were reiterated by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.