In 2018, US President Donald Trump decided to walk away from the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and to withdraw from the 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which the Obama administration had negotiated with Iran alongside the other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Donald Trump, while still on the campaign trail during the US presidential elections in 2016, denounced the JCPOA as “the worst deal ever” and publicly promised to withdraw the US from the JCPOA unless “the deal’s disastrous flaws” were fixed.
In autumn 2018 President Trump announced his intention to completely “terminate” the INF Treaty, alleging repeated Russian violations. In the meantime, the Russian government declared its readiness to remain open to resuming talks on saving the INF Treaty. Russia claims that the INF Treaty has been violated by the US 95 times. In the end, both countries officially suspended their treaty obligations. The INF Treaty’s demise reflects a fundamental shift in the way the current US administration views arms control.
Additionally, President Trump has stressed the importance of modernising the US nuclear arsenal, advancing a $1.2 trillion proposal. Thus, President Trump has engaged in an attempt to deliver on promises to “strengthen and expand” and “modernize and rebuild” the US nuclear forces, at the risk of a new arms race.
Regarding the INF Treaty, it is up to the US, Russia and perhaps China, to reach an agreement to launch a “New INF Treaty”. A new US administration could be ready to re-negotiate this treaty after the next US presidential elections. Relating to the JCPOA, the EU together with Russia and China could re-negotiate and elaborate an adapted proposal with Iran, which could lead to an updated agreement with the new US administration.