Bill offered to keep U.S. in compliance with collapsing Cold War-era weapons treaty
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat and 2020 presidential hopeful, urged her congressional colleagues Friday to pass a bill blocking President Trump from abandoning the faltering Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the U.S. and Russia.
Ms. Gabbard touted her proposal, the INF Treaty Compliance Act, during a press conference held on Capitol Hill a day after she introduced the bill in a bid to keep the Cold War-era pact from falling apart.
“The INF Treaty Compliance Act would ensure that our country remains compliant with the INF Treaty, prohibiting a single taxpayer dollar from being used for weapons that would breach the treaty,” said Ms. Gabbard. “This is one step Congress can and must take now toward national security and peace.”
Reached in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF paved the way for the Cold War’s conclusion by banning missiles capable of reaching distances between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
Mr. Trump has accused Russia of violating the agreement by developing a new missile system, the 9M729, and earlier this month he said the U.S. would accordingly “suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawing.”
“President Trump’s reckless decision to pull out of the INF Treaty heightens this threat by exacerbating the new Cold War, sparking a new arms race between the United States and Russia and bringing us ever closer to a nuclear holocaust,” Ms. Gabbard reacted. “President Trump’s actions make the American people and our country less safe, while wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for the new arms race and nuclear weapons dollars that should be used to address the needs of our people and communities right here at home.”
“Rather than scrapping the INF Treaty, we should be working to strengthen and expand it, and continue pursuing a path toward security and peace,” Ms. Gabbard added.
The INF Treaty Compliance Act was introduced Thursday and referred to the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. It is co-sponsored by fellow Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern or Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and has garnered the support of anti-nuclear groups including Win Without War, Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility, among others.
The White House did not immediately return a message seeking comment.President Vladimir Putin previously announced that Russia would withdraw from the INF as a result of Mr. Trump’s decision.
“We will have to take effective countermeasures. However, Russia, as a responsible and sensible country, has no interest in a new arms race,” Mr. Putin said last month.
Mr. Gorbachev, meanwhile, warned earlier this week that eliminating the INF would most certainly put both nuclear powers in the running for new weapons, however.
“This destructive turn of events will lead to a very different result: The destabilization of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and greater chaos and unpredictability in world politics,” Mr. Gorbachev, 87, wrote in an op-ed Thursday.