February 1, 2019
Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Jim Cooper (D-TN) released the following statement about withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty:
“The Trump administration is needlessly ignoring the concerns of our allies and partners on an issue that should unify NATO, not divide it,” said Smith. “By withdrawing from the INF Treaty instead of making an honest, good-faith effort to collectively punish Russia for its treaty violations and bring it back into compliance, we are playing into President Putin’s hands.
“The administration’s ideological aversion to arms control as a tool for advancing national security is endangering our safety, as well as that of our allies and partners. The risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding is already higher than at any point since the end of the Cold War, and this decision only makes it worse,” Smith continued. “President Trump withdrawing from this treaty reopens a field of competition with yet another class of nuclear weapons and, perhaps ironically, reverses one of President Reagan’s most important historical achievements in a way that benefits Moscow. We must not allow Russia to receive a free pass for violating the INF Treaty, which is exactly what the Trump administration is handing President Putin.”
“Of course the Russians have been cheating on the INF treaty for years; the question is how we punish them for cheating,” said Cooper. “The Trump approach is to reward them by withdrawing from the treaty ourselves. If a student cheats on a test, does the teacher suddenly decide the test doesn’t count? No, we should rally NATO, the main beneficiaries of this treaty, to condemn Russia. But our President has been too soft on Russia and too hard on NATO. He’s got it backwards.”