By Safvan Allahverdi
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a Congressionally mandated review of whether a Russian ballistic missile violates a Reagan-era nuclear treaty.
Trump, in consultation with high-ranking government officials, will conduct a review to determine whether Russia’s RS-26 ballistic missile violates the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, according to the White House.
"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America...I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of National Intelligence the functions and authorities vested in the President by section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018," Trump said in a statement.
Section 1245 requires that a review of the RS-26 ballistic missile be conducted within 90 days after the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Dec. 12 last year.
The investigation will determine whether the missile is covered under the New START treaty, a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russia on measures for the reduction of strategic offensive arms, or is a violation of the INF Treaty because Russia has flight-tested such a missile to ranges covered by the INF Treaty in more than one warhead configuration.
The INF Treaty, a 1987 agreement between Washington and Moscow, aims to eliminate all short-range nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 310–620 miles (500–1,000 kilometers) and intermediate-range missiles with ranges of 620–3,420 miles (1,000–5,500 km) as well as their launchers.
According to the NDAA, if the investigation determines that the RS-26 ballistic missile is covered under the New START Treaty and that Russia has not taken certain steps under it, the U.S. shall consider for purposes of all policies and decisions that the missile is in violation of the INF Treaty.