2017-10-11. – (Washington Post) – Mikhail Gorbachev: My plea to the presidents of Russia and the United States
This December will mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of the treaty between the Soviet Union and United States on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. This was the start of the process of radically cutting back nuclear arsenals, which was continued with the 1991 and 2010 strategic arms reduction treaties and the agreements reducing tactical nuclear weapons.
The scale of the process launched in 1987 is evidenced by the fact that, as Russia and the United States reported to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2015, 80 percent of the nuclear weapons accumulated during the Cold War have been decommissioned and destroyed. …
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, however, is now in jeopardy. It has proved to be the most vulnerable link in the system of limiting and reducing weapons of mass destruction. There have been calls on both sides for scrapping the agreement….
So what is happening, what is the problem, and what needs to be done?
Both sides have raised issues of compliance, accusing the other of violating or circumventing the treaty’s key provisions. From the sidelines, lacking fuller information, it is difficult to evaluate those accusations. But one thing is clear: The problem has a political as well as a technical aspect. It is up to the political leaders to take action.
Therefore I am making an appeal to the presidents of Russia and the United States.
Relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis. A way out must be sought, and there is one well-tested means available for accomplishing this: a dialogue based on mutual respect….
I call upon Russia and the United States to prepare and hold a full-scale summit on the entire range of issues. It is far from normal that the presidents of major nuclear powers meet merely “on the margins” of international gatherings. I hope that the process of preparing a proper summit is in the works even now…
The closer that nuclear weapons are deployed to borders, the more dangerous they are: There is less time for a decision and greater risk of catastrophic error. And what will happen to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if the nuclear arms race begins anew? I am afraid it will be ruined.
If, however, the INF Treaty is saved, it will send a powerful signal to the world that the two biggest nuclear powers are aware of their responsibility and take their obligations seriously…