Home » Aviation » PACOM: U.S. Should Renegotiate INF Missile Treaty to Better Compete with China


PACOM: U.S. Should Renegotiate INF Missile Treaty to Better Compete with China

Chinese DF-26 missiles on display during a military parade in Tiananmen Square. Photo via globalsecurity.org

The commander of U.S. Pacific Command said the United States may want to renegotiate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia because the restrictions on conventional land-based weapons are hindering the U.S. military’s ability to keep up with China.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and bans the signatories – which today includes Belarus, Kazakstan, Russia, and Ukraine instead of the Soviet Union – from having “ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment,” according to a State Department description.

No other country in the world is bound by the treaty, meaning China, North Korea, Iran and others can pursue development of conventional missiles of any range they wish.

“We adhere to the INF treaty religiously, as we should – it’s a treaty we signed on for,” PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
“Russia has violated the treaty in the conventional sense, with a conventional cruise missile. So at the end of the day what you have is you have a treaty that binds theoretically two countries: one of them violates it without being held to account, the other adheres to it rigidly as it should. And then all the other countries in the world are not obliged to follow the treaty, and they don’t.”

Harris said China has two missile programs in this range that worry him: the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile and the DF-26 anti-ship and anti-ground target “Guam Killer” ballistic missile.

“I think there’s goodness in the INF treaty, anything you can do to limit nuclear weapons writ large is generally good,” Harris said.
“But the aspects of the INF treaty that limit our ability to counter Chinese and other countries’ cruise missiles, land-based missiles, I think is problematic.”

PACOM spokesman Capt. Darryn James told USNI News after the hearing that PACOM wasn’t hoping to build an intermediate-range land-based missile to counter a specific threat set – ships or ground facilities, for example – but rather the inability to develop this type of weapon was generally a disadvantage to the U.S.

Harris said during the hearing that the treaty doesn’t apply to air- and ship-launched missiles but that “more capability against the threats we face is needed in the Pacific Command” area of responsibility.

A screen shot of a YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) from China’s state controlled CCTV. CCTV Image

He added that China is investing in hypersonic weapons and the U.S. should be too – “we must improve our ability to defend against hypersonic weapons and develop our own hypersonic weapons, but again, in the development of hypersonic weapons, offensive hypersonic weapons, we’re going to run up against treaty restrictions.”

Regarding a way forward with the treaty, Harris said “I would never advocate unilateral withdrawing from the treaty because of the nuclear limitation part of it, but I do think we should look at renegotiating the treaty, we should consider it, because … there’s only two countries that signed on to it and one of them doesn’t follow it, so that becomes a unilateral limitation on us.”

  • Brainwashing(ton)

    Russia and China must sign a treaty to Better Compete with US

  • Charles Pierce

    Why renegotiate the treaty the Russians have violated it so simply withdraw from the treaty.

    • sferrin

      This. It only ties our hands.

    • El_Sid

      It vastly helps one’s credibility in negotiating new treaties if one has a history of respecting existing treaties. Imagine you’re Beijing – why would you sign a treaty if you think the other side are just going to treat it as a worthless piece of paper?

      • Charles Pierce

        First of all the INF treaty is between the US and Russia, China has not part in the treaty. Second the Russian have deployed both an ballistic missile and a cruse missile in in violation of the INF treaty. But like many thing the Past administration simply delivered a threat and no action. The US simply needs to terminate our participation in the treaty.

        • El_Sid

          It doesn’t matter who the INF treaty is between – when you’re signing new treaties you look at how the counterparty has behaved in respect of all treaties that they’ve signed, regardless of what Russia may have done. A history of predictability is needed to develop trust, which is needed for peacable coexistence.

          As an aside, it would be a smart move for the US to ratify UNCLOS, right now China is benefiting more from not signing UNCLOS than the US, so it would be a good example to set. Unfortunately the US’ history of ignoring UN conventions means that now China can flout them too.

          • Charles Pierce

            You assume things not in evidence, The Russians/Soviets routinely violate treaties and agreements they have made so why even talk to them. China, Vietnam, North Korea all have violated agreement they have signed with the UN and with the US.
            It is different not to sign a treaty or agreement than it is to sign and ignore. Why would it be in the interest of the US to sign the NUCLOS when many other leading nations have? Your concept seems to be that if we do what is right the world will follow. That is totally false.

    • Samurai_Jack

      But of course no actual evidence of such a launcher, other than “trust us it exists”.As I have said before, America wants to break the INF treaty by using nuclear warheads on its ABM rockets.
      So Russia has a case against the US with its dual use ABM system. Russia repeatedly requested the SVC to be convened to discuss US breaches but US refused to discuss the possibility of such.Russia has nearly completed all their disposal, US has failed to even start construction of the facility, repeatedly pushes back their timeline & that was clearly stated.From recollection US has even been busted having ‘disposed’ of a bunch of treaty relevant plutonium by storing it in short term ‘low hazard’ storage facilities from which it could potentially be recovered in future.

      • Charles Pierce

        The US anti ballistic missiles are hit to kill systems. Why would you want to use a nuclear missile to kill a nuclear missile. It would only generated the same series of problem as the missile you are trying to kill.

        • Samurai_Jack

          US ABM systems in Eastern Europe can be used to fire cruise missiles since both SM-3 and US cruise missiles use same launchers rest US ABM abysmal performance is a separate issue.

          • Oskar

            LMAO!!!

            Back up your nonsense with some credible facts.

      • Oskar

        LMAO!!!

        What “ABM rockets” are those?

      • both sides are behind on warhead disposal. Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good discussion Boris Jack.

  • MindWatcher

    I think it is time for the United States to re-think its arms control treaties and include China in the process. It is ludicrous that the US and Russia keep their arsenals in check, while China keeps adding more weapons systems to theirs. In the past, it did work for both nuclear powers to reduce tensions or an unwanted arms race. Thus, controlling nuclear weapons became the centerpiece in international relations, but China is no longer the same country that it was some 30 years ago. That is fairly tale stories and take control of the South China Sea. China is growing its military capabilities with the intent of defeating the Unites States in the long-term. Past administrations have miserably failed to see what the future looks like for the United States vis-a- vis China. Thus, for example, the Obama administration naive view of re-setting relations with Russia not only brought nothing concrete to the United States in reducing international tensions, but it also made the United States look “weak” and “apologetic” at the end of the day. At the same time, China continued increasing not only its military expenditures and its global expansionism to eliminate US military dominance and US Hegemony in the world. Hopefully, US President Donald Trump addresses those “failed” policies of the past, nails them down and, brings stability to the world. It is time to think in terms of “Real Politics” and not stupid “idealism” to please the same people who want to see the destruction of this country (USA), the Liberals in Congress. Rome was not destroyed by outside forces, it was destroyed from within. So, Americans chose Donald Trump to lead this country and put America First. God Willing.

    • Samurai_Jack

      Russia would be fully down with INF being expanded to include other countries since its something they’ve repeatedly publicly stated. Why it should include only US non-allies like China ? Why don’t UK , France come under the same scrutiny? Must be a fair play.

    • DaSaint

      So add China. And India? Anyone else that you can predict for 50 years from now? Any weapon system unimagined qd yet?

  • KazuakiShimazaki

    >“We adhere to the INF treaty religiously, as we should – it’s a treaty we signed on for,”

    Oh, don’t look so innocent there. The brutal truth is that the INF doesn’t nearly bother the United States as much as it does Russia because the US simply puts all its Tomahawks on subs and ships and then parks them right off the enemy coast. It also has a bomber fleet which you can put plenty of cruise missiles on.

    • NavySubNuke

      You seem to imply that Russia doesn’t have the ability to do the same – are you deliberately ignoring Russia’s matching capabilities in both sea and air launched cruise missiles or are you ignorant of their existence?

      • KazuakiShimazaki

        I am aware that they also *have* sea and air launched cruise missiles. However, differences in geography and also force structures means de facto that the US is in a much better position to simply place a bunch of subs off the enemy coast and make up the rest using bombers.

        • NavySubNuke

          Ok – so you are just deliberately ignoring it so you can attempt to invent an issue where none exists – got it!

          • KazuakiShimazaki

            You ARE aware that equity is a substantive rather than a formal concept, do you?

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m aware that you are trying to imply there is a problem where one doesn’t exist as a way of excusing Russia for violating its treaty obligations rather than doing the honorable thing and withdrawing from a treaty it no longer wishes to be a part of.

          • KazuakiShimazaki

            I don’t think I excused Russia, but I do have something against hypocrisy or wilful blindness. The fact is that as far as equity is concerned, the INF was always substantively a better deal for the United States than it was for the Soviet Union, as is the CFE for the matter.

            I won’t make a final judgment as to the balance between the need for equity and “a deal is a deal” (or formal legality), but the fact is that what little legitimacy in terms of equity for both treaties died when the Soviet Union broke up. I actually do support that treaty being abrogated by both sides, so they can deploy lots of missiles against China. Maybe having to defend against all those missiles will tear their eyes away from territorial expansion in the name of “disputes” for awhile.

          • Oskar

            “I don’t think…”

            You should have stopped typing at that point.

          • Oskar

            You aren’t aware of the Russian nuclear capabilities.

            SSBN’s, strategic bombers, road mobile ICBM’s…

        • Oskar

          Re-take a geography class.

          The east and west coasts of North America and the waters around Europe are wide open for Russia to park an SSBN.

          • KazuakiShimazaki

            You might remember what happened when the Soviets tried that in the 80s. The brutal facts of geography means for the Soviets / Russians to deploy intermediate range missiles against the United States, they have to deploy forces through just about all of NATO’s defensive depth, and that’s even if you count Cuba (which the Russians don’t have now, and its usefulness was “proved” during the Cuban Missile Crisis).

            US ships can range into Russia with nuke armed Tomahawks lounging in some NATO base.

          • Oskar

            “… they have to deploy forces through just about all of NATO’s defensive depth…”?

            Why?

            Those ex-Warsaw Pact countries want NOTHING to do with their former OCCUPIER.

            What EXACTLY has the US done to Cuba?

            Care to chat about Cuba’s role in Angola?

            LOL!!!

    • Subsailor

      None of the SLCMs aboard USN ships are armed with nuclear warheads, unlike the Russian mobile-launched missiles in Kaliningrad or western Russia.

      Try a different strawman, Comrade………..

      • KazuakiShimazaki

        At least you are arguing a substantive issue, but then you have to prove those missiles are actually *armed* with nuclear warheads rather than they *can* be armed with nukes, because USN ships *can* be armed with nuclear warheads.

        • Oskar

          Wow, you obviously don’t see you’re chasing your tail.

    • Oskar

      What do those Bears and Blackjacks carry as they troll around North America and Europe?

      • KazuakiShimazaki

        They can do that in peacetime. In times of tension, they have to fly through the air surveillance and defense of much of NATO. Do you cling to this concept of formal equality so much because you know that substantively it is not true?

        • Oskar

          Answer the question.

          Do you always squirm when being BUSTED?

  • The Plague

    “I think there’s goodness in the INF treaty” – my a$$ there is goodness. The US abides, all others violate. And my a$$ negotiating with the Russkies on INF – they never do, they just act. Do the same.

  • Charles Pierce

    “The INF Treaty eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well
    as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi)
    (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range).
    The treaty did not cover sea-launched missiles. By May 1991, 2,692 missiles were eliminated, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.” Two things first is if it does not cover ballistic missiles than why were the P1 and P2 eliminated. Second it eliminated ground based not sea based missiles. Lastly, the MLRS launchers have a missile that has a range of 300 miles. The Russian Missiles are land based and are both cruise and ballistic and are new.

    • Samurai_Jack

      Aegis ashore is a ground based site and the missiles will be launched from ground only not sea. If Ballistic violates then why US is modernizing it BMs and unlike US , Russia isn’t deploying any missiles in foreign nations. I think they rather should to keep US Empire imperial hegemony in check.

      • Charles Pierce

        And if a frog had wings it would not bump it butt every time if hopped. Same launcher does not make for an offensive GLCM capability.

      • Oskar

        Why can’t you learn proper English grammar before you troll?

  • Oskar

    You first.

    Get your facts straight.

  • Oskar

    “Russian nukes outsmarts US nukes.”?

    Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

  • a new hope

    We have a tactical nuclear weapons gap w Russia. It is time to close it.
    Building new SM-3 IIA with tactical nuclear warheads and surface attack capability would be a start
    Also tactical nuclear tomahawks would be affordable

  • Oskar

    “Try hard next time”?

    LMFAO!!!

    Why can’t you learn proper English before you troll?

  • Oskar

    seek help for your cranial-rectal conflict.

    Your delusions of grandeur and borderline illiteracy aren’t doing you any favours.

  • Oskar

    LOL!

    Keep squirming, troll…

    Back up your nonsense with some credible facts.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Easy solution. EASY. Just develop missiles which exceed the parameters and the limits of the treaty with the Russians, and stencil on each one that they are for use against China, North Korea, and Iran only! That should do it, right? Problem solved! (wink)…

  • Oskar

    Lead by example.

  • Oskar

    LOL!

    SO easy…

    “US ABM systems in Eastern Europe…”

    Let’s see the ones in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, etc.

    How’s the crow tasting?

  • Oskar

    Cite some facts, for once.

  • Why even bother negotiating it? As pointed out, Russia violated it already. We play coy, such as the next Army MLRS having range increased to TA DA 499 miles. just make it 700. Russia is not going to outspend the US. The Chinese have a massive advantage they are not going to relinquish on these missiles. God bless them, but just the US having a few “China Killers” just like China has the “Guam killer” DF series missiles will suddenly keep all pretty honest on not using what they have. if left to the state department, we’ll have another Chamberlin agreement for “peace in our time”.

  • Top secret clearence

    No one could defeat the US.We have 5,000 or more nuclear weapons,12 nuclear aircraft carriers and a new one every year 12 nuclear ballistic missiles submarines and two new one every year,6,000 airplanes 5,000 tanks one million men in arms.James Dale Davidson (advisor to 4 US presidents)said the day of reckoning is coming,we can not keep printing money.China holds 1.3 trillion dollars in US treasury bonds earning less than one%.If we default,no one will buy worthless treasury bonds.Or if China backs its currencies with gold,the dollar will be worth less.Why not borrow the 1.3 trillion dollars at 2% to build our infrastructures? China is loaning money at two % to every countries to build their infrastructures.