In a letter signed by 26 U.S. Senators, including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, the legislators urged President Donald Trump to reconsider his planned withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia which was negotiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. The senators also called for the Trump administration to preserve the agreement while bringing Russia back into compliance despite its recent violations.
In a recent letter addressed to President Trump, the senators wrote, “In the 166th Congress, we will sustain our longstanding commitment to providing the resources needed to secure our nation and defend America’s allies. However, we write out of deep concern that your administration is now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership around the paired goals of reducing the global role and number of nuclear weapons and ensuring strategic stability with America’s nuclear-armed adversaries.
“Your administration’s efforts to double down on new, unnecessary nuclear weapons while scrapping mutually beneficial treaties risks the United States sliding into another arms race with Russia and erodes U.S. nonproliferation efforts around the world.”
Signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the letter reminded Trump that the INF Treaty with Russia had been negotiated by Republican icon President Reagan in 1987 and ratified by the Senate in a vote of 93-5. In their letter, the senators also urged the Trump Administration to reconsider its planned withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
The senators continued, “We should address Russia’s serious violation of the Treaty arising from its production, flight-testing, and development of a non-compliant ground-launched cruise missile (Novator 9M729, or SSC-8) by vigorously exploring a diplomatic resolution in close concert with our allies. NATO’s unanimous condemnation of Russia’s INF violation is a positive first step. However, the U.S. still lacks a comprehensive strategy to address the security threats that would result from a collapse of the INF Treaty. A U.S. withdrawal from INF will embolden Russia to deploy, without any legal constraint, an unlimited number of currently banned missiles, thereby increasing the threat to our allies and forward deployed troops in Europe.”
The senators demanded that Trump hold Russia accountable for its INF violation while denying Russian president Vladimir Putin of any further military gain. They also called for an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, a bilateral treaty that provides the U.S. with crucial insight into the location, movement, and elimination of Russia’s strategic forces, that is set to expire in February 2021.
The senators concluded, “In the 116th Congress, the Democratic Caucus will work to maintain generations of U.S. global leadership in reducing the salience and number of nuclear weapons. We ask you to reverse the recent course set by your administration and instead point our nation back towards stability.”