Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of the perception in the U.S. of the Trump administration’s policy in relation to arms control in general and the INF Treaty in particular on the eve of the withdrawal from it. In the context of the evolution and basic components of this policy, the authors study the attitudes of the most active and influential groups of the ruling elite (neoliberals, realists and conservatives) to it. The short-term program of the neoliberals from the Democratic Party included the preservation of the INF or withdrawal from it “without loss of face”. In the midterm, they proposed to conclude new multilateral treaties on short- and medium-range missiles with the participation of Russia and extend the New START treaty. They expected that under pressure from the West, Moscow will join this plan. The realist wing of the Republicans advocated the preserving of the existing version of the INF using not only pressure, but also concessions to Moscow in the security sphere. After that, Russia and the U.S. should jointly force China to sign a separate agreement on short- and medium-range missiles. Considering China as the main strategic threat, the conservatives from the Republican party saw in the behavior of Russia on the issue of medium- and short-range missiles a compelling reason to withdraw from the INF and New Start. After that, the conservatives proposed to initiate a dialogue with Moscow on modernization the INF, including new missile technologies and integration of China in it. Despite these differences in views, Trump’s administration expects that after the withdrawal from the INF in August 2019, the interest groups will come to a consensus on a new intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles program that would involve China with support of Russia. Otherwise, the prolongation of the New START, and therefore the modernization of the nuclear triad, will be put at risk. Such a development of events may cause another conflict within the American establishment and become an additional battleground for U.S. presidential candidates in 2020.
Keywords: INF Treaty, New START, arms control, United States, Russia, China, neoliberals, realists, conservatives
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