February 26, 2019
The Trump administration has been threatening to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement by February 2, 2019. Its stated reason is that Russia has developed a missile that violates the treaty. US withdrawal, however, is likely to lead to a new nuclear arms race.
The INF Treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 to end a dangerous arms race that threatened the European continent. The treaty outlawed an entire class of weapon and formed a basis for later arms control agreements.
We do not know what President Donald Trump will actually do with respect to the treaty. This talk will be up to the minute. It will include the historical background of the INF Treaty, its place in the framework of arms control treaties, and how the US’s withdrawal from it can provoke a new arms race, along with the implications of actions taken by the administration during February.
Cheryl Rofer was a chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years. She now writes scientific and political commentary for the web publications Nuclear Diner and Balloon Juice. She regularly provides background information on nuclear topics to reporters and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox. Her work at Los Alamos included projects in fossil fuels, laser development, and the nuclear fuel cycle and has worked on environmental remediation at Los Alamos and in Estonia and Kazakhstan. She is past president of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security and a founding member of SFWAF. She has published in scientific and political science journals and edited a book. She holds an A.B. from Ripon College and an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has spoken to SFWAF on several previous occasions, most recently on the Iran Nuclear Agreement.