By Vatican News
In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a document banning nuclear missiles capable of reaching targets 500 to 5,000 kilometers away. They called it the INF, or Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
This year, both NATO and the United States claimed Russia had broken that treaty by developing a missile system that, in the words of a statement issued by NATO Foreign Ministers at the time: “poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security”. The statement invited Russia to “return urgently to full and verifiable compliance”.
Russia has denied all accusations.
Now U.S. President Donald Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the treaty if Russia does not respect its side of the agreement.
Nuclear weapons analysts fear the international instability caused by such a withdrawal could result in a renewed arms race between Russia, the United States and China.
In 2017, the Vatican hosted an International Symposium entitled “Prospects for a world free of nuclear weapons and for integral disarmament”. During that meeting, Pope Francis expressed his concern for “the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices”. The Pope confirmed that “the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned”. “Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security”, said the Pope. “They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity”.