[Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations] On Feb. 1, the U.S. government announced it will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The INF Treaty was signed more than 30 years ago, and it is the only remaining arms control agreement from the Cold War. The administration’s decision begins the process of withdrawing from the treaty, to take effect in six months, unless the U.S. believes that Russia returns to compliance during this time.
The Episcopal Church opposes this development and is concerned that withdrawing from this treaty, which resulted in a reduction in nuclear stockpiles in the U.S. and Russian Federation, will erode a commitment to nuclear disarmament. While the U.S. government has raised serious concerns about Russian violations of the Treaty, we believe the cause of peace is not furthered by abandoning the agreement all together. We must continue to build upon past efforts to ensure reduction of all nuclear arms and renegotiate the agreement if needed.
Longstanding Episcopal Church policy recognizes the danger nuclear weapons pose and acknowledges their devastating consequences. We call for nuclear disarmament, a ban on testing, and express our hope that nuclear power will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. We urge the administration to work diplomatically with Russia and partners around the world to reduce proliferation of nuclear arms and not only promote, but actively engage in, multilateral disarmament.
One of the Cold War nuclear arms control treaties, the INF treaty was signed by President Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The agreement prohibited the United States and the Soviet Union from fielding ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that could fly between 500 and 5500 kilometers (approximately 310 and 3,420 miles). More background about the INF Treaty from the Council on Foreign Relations.