UK PONI Roundtable: The INF Treaty

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This roundtable will discuss the recent U.S. announcement to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and implications this may have for the future of deterrence and arms control.

Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty required the U.S. and Soviet Union to eliminate an entire class of nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, those with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. This arms control initiative was primarily designed to increase regional security in Europe, although its limitations apply to deployment globally. Since 2014, the U.S. has alleged that Russia is in violation of its treaty obligations.

On 20 October, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty, though he has not yet started the formal procedure to do so. How did we reach this potentially pivotal moment in arms control? Would a last-ditch attempt to save the treaty have any chance of success? What are implications for deterrence and assurance if the treaty does not survive?

This roundtable will consider the effects the potential dissolution of the treaty might have on both U.S.-Russian relations and deterrence dynamics in Europe and Asia, and what this means for the future of arms control.


  • Chair: Tom Plant, Director, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, RUSI.
  • James Acton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program and Jessica T. Mathews Chair, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • Oksana Antonenko, Director, Control Risks; Visiting Senior Fellow, Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics.

Speaker Biographies

  • Tom Plant joined RUSI in June 2017 as the Director of its Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme.  His research interests include nuclear deterrence, arms control, proliferation issues – particularly in relation to North Korea – and UK nuclear policy. He is also Director of the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI), a cross-generational network of over 900 members which encourages young scholars and professionals to engage with established experts on contemporary nuclear issues.
  • James Acton holds the Jessica T. Mathews Chair and is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A physicist by training, Acton’s current research focuses on the escalation risks of advanced conventional weapons--a subject about which he has testified to U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. He has published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and International Security.
  • Oksana Antonenko is a Director at Control Risks.  Prior to that she directed Russia and Eurasia programme at the international Institute for Strategic Studies and was a Senior Political Counsellor at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  She published extensively on Russian foreign and security policy,  Eurasian conflicts and Europe’s relations with its Eastern neighbours.   


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