United Kingdom Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a landmark Reagan-era nuclear treaty with Russia.
In an interview with the Financial Times published Saturday, Williamson blamed Russia for endangering the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, stressing that Great Britain stands “resolute” behind the United States’ decision to withdraw. Kremlin, Williamson said, has made a “mockery” of the agreement.
“Our close and long-term ally of course is the United States and we will be absolutely resolute with the United States in hammering home a clear message that Russia needs to respect the treaty obligation that it signed.”
According to Williamson, since Russia is in breach of the INF, it needs to “get its house in order” and stay committed to the agreement.
“We of course want to see this treaty continue to stand but it does require two parties to be committed to it and at the moment you have one party that is ignoring it. It is Russia that is in breach and it is Russia that needs to get its house in order,” Williamson concluded.
Yesterday, as Politico reported, President Trump confirmed that the United States would be withdrawing from the Cold War-era treaty, following rumors that White House National Security Adviser John Bolton had been pushing for the withdrawal.
“We’ll have to develop those weapons. We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump said.
Earlier this week, The Guardian first reported – citing Trump administration officials briefed on the matter – that John Bolton is leading the initiative to withdraw from the INF.
Bolton, a war hawk famous for opposing arms treaties and thought to be the main architect of U.S. foreign policy according to The Guardian, is set to meet with high-ranking Russian government officials in Moscow, where he will officially announce the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the treaty.
In March this year, after President Trump appointed Bolton as national security adviser, BBC published an extensive report describing Bolton as a neoconservative war hawk who cheered for the Iraq war while working for former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Not everyone is happy with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, however.
The Brookings Institution described the maneuver as a “major mistake,” suggesting that the United States should have taken a more nuanced approach. Instead of abruptly withdrawing from the deal, the Trump administration should have made a push to preserve it by urging European and other allies to pressure Putin to comply with the deal, according to Brookings.
Signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty banned all U.S. and Soviet land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 and 620 miles. Signed towards the end of the Cold War, the agreement subsequently resulted in the destruction of 2,700 missiles, improving the relationship between the two nuclear powers.