Japan Institute for National Fundamentals
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Speaking out

Fumio Ota

【#451(Special)】Is Japan Prepared to Promote 2nd INF Treaty?

Fumio Ota / 2017.07.06 (Thu)


July 3, 2017

     On June 20, the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in its markup for FY 2018 national defense authorization act identified Russia’s deployment of SSC-8 cruise missiles in Europe in February as running counter to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, recommended the president to withdraw from the treaty the United States and the then Soviet Union concluded to totally abolish missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and proposed to develop cruise missiles to be fired from mobile ground launchers.
     At a time when the United States was growing alert to Russian military capabilities, the Defense Intelligence Agency on June 29 released “Russia Military Power” for the first time, a new version of the annual “Soviet Military Power” report published by the Defense Department in the 1980s.

Father of NATO double decision: West German chancellor
     After Russia began to deploy SS-20 missile in 1977, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in 1979 made a double decision to deploy 108 Pershing II missiles and 464 ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe and negotiate arms control with the Soviet Union. Reportedly, then West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt proposed the double decision.
     In 1980, the United States made the so-called Zero Option proposal to the Soviet Union for abolishing all INF missiles (U.S. Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20, SS-4 and SS-5 missiles) and began to deploy INF missiles in West Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. In 1986, then General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev proposed to abolish INF missiles and all other nuclear weapons deployed in Europe by 2000. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed on the INF Treaty in 1987.

Need for revising Japan’s three non-nuclear principles
     Last April, Adm. Harry Harris, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command told Congress the U.S. was “being taken to the cleaners” by countries like China that were not signatories of the INF Treaty. Harris said 90% of China’s missiles were classified as INF missiles that the United States cannot possess under the INF Treaty. North Korea, also outside the treaty, has developed and deployed missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
     Realistically, China and North Korea will turn down any request to stop the development and deployment of intermediate-range missiles. In order to realize a multilateral INF Treaty binding not only the United States and Russia but also others to abolish all intermediate-range missiles under the Zero Option, the United States may have no choice but to build up arms while calling for arms control, as is the case with the INF Treaty. Specifically, the United States may deploy intermediate-range missiles in Japan while urging Russia, China and North Korea to abolish all INF missiles. Then, Japan may have to revise its three non-nuclear principles including a ban on bringing nuclear weapons into Japan. Is Japan prepared to do so? If not, Japan will have no choice but to stand aside from an arms race under no control in East Asia.

Fumio Ota is a JINF Planning Committee Member and retired Vice Admiral of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.