The Defence Committee examined the circumstances which, in February 2019, led the US to give notice of withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
In its Report, the Committee has established a timeline of events, scrutinised the possible motivations for the decisions made by both Russia and the US, and evaluated the suggested ways in which the INF Treaty could potentially be saved. The Committee has come to the conclusion that it is unlikely that the Treaty will survive, as a result of Russian unwillingness to return to compliance. Consequently, NATO will have to find a way to respond in a manner consistent with its members’ priorities.
The Committee strongly recommends that evidence of Russia’s re-introduction of a ground-launched, intermediate-range missile system should be publicly presented at the UN Security Council.
The Committee does not exclude the possibility of new arms control agreements with Russia in the future but warns that, if the past is any guide, compliance should never be relied upon without stringent and permanent verification arrangements. In the case of the INF Treaty, the inspection regime was time-limited and ended in 2001. Russian non-compliance is believed to have begun a few years after that date.
Defence Committee Chair Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, says:
"The continent of Europe is less safe as a result of the Russian decision to develop missiles in contravention of the INF Treaty. The UK was not a party to this treaty but, like all other NATO members, we must consider the implications of Russian deployment—once again—of missiles designed to threaten Western Europe and decouple the United States from the rest of NATO in a crisis. We urge the Government to ensure that a robust response to Russia’s violation is agreed and implemented by NATO."
Defence Committee Vice-Chair Rt Hon John Spellar MP, says:
"The INF Treaty dates from a different time but it had remained a key building block of European security. As with numerous other agreements in the past decade, President Putin has violated this treaty in a cynical and dangerous fashion. The best outcome would be to get the treaty back on track with proper verification, difficult though this may be, but failing that the UK Government needs to push NATO for a proportionate response which sends a firm message."