INF Treaty and India

In the 1980s, the USSR developed SS-20. It was a missile that could carry three nuclear warheads. The USSR deployed the missile in Europe, The US countered the Soviet deployment with the counter deployment of Pershing-II cruise missiles in Europe. This led to a massive internment crisis between the US and the USSR, as the deployment of these intermediate-range missiles aggravated the nuclear arms race. 

SS-20 Missile
SS-20 Missile

                         
Pershing-][ cruise missile
Pershing-][ cruise missile
                    

Thus, to de-escalate the crisis, in 1987, the INF treaty was negotiated and signed by the US and the USSR. The treaty prohibited the deployment of land and ballistic missiles (ranging from 311 to 3420 miles). The treaty had nom of cruise missiles that could be deployed or launched from ships, submarines, or planes.

1987 INF Treaty was signed
               1987 INF Treaty was signed


Missile banned by INF Treaty
                Missile banned by INF Treaty


The treaty was in the news in 2018 and 2019 where its trigger can be traced back to the 2014 Ukraine crisis. As per Obama administration and a report of the CIA, the Russians had deployed tactical nuclear weapons against those states of Europe that tilted towards the West. The US alleges that this w did by Russia to intimidate the European states. The US asserted that Russia violated the INF treaty by doing the deployment of SSC-8 land-based cruise missiles. 
The Trump administration, in 2018, announced a unilateral pullout from the treaty. The treaty now stands defunct, and this will have the following consequences.

1. The INF Treaty has limited the American ability to deploy weapons in South Asia. Now the US has no longer obligated to follow this preventive model in South Asia.

2. The US had been raising objections in recent times that the INF treaty is imbalanced in representation and it does not include China, which apparently has been expanding its missile capabilities in the Pacific and Central Asia. It will now allow the US to focus on efforts to counter China in the Pacific as the US has been pressing that China should join the INF Treaty.

3. The unilateral American withdrawal is definitely going to spur a nuclear arms race of intermediate-range ballistic missiles; but the bigger issue is that if the US deploys such missiles in South Asia (to counter China), how will India respond? India needs to mitigate the new challenge by investing in the development of hypersonic missiles.
              

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