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Reps. Frankel, Lieu Introduce Bill to Prevent Nuclear Arms Race

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-21) and Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33) introduced legislation to stop President Trump from plunging the United States and Russia into a nuclear arms race.

On February 1, President Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, once again undermining the international order that has advanced global peace for decades and adding to the long list of major diplomatic agreements he has ripped apart. Signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the INF Treaty significantly reduced the risk of nuclear war in Europe by eliminating certain classes of nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistics and cruise missiles.

“Trump’s reckless Twitter diplomacy is upending global security and bringing us to the brink of a nuclear arms race,” said Rep. Frankel, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies and a member of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “His decision jeopardizes our national security and plays right into Putin’s hands, giving Russia more freedom to produce destructive nuclear weapons.”

“No one wins a nuclear war, and a nuclear arms race is both expensive and destabilizing. Trump’s decision to pull out of the INF treaty is outright dangerous, and could turn deadly if we’re forced into a tit for tat with Russia,” said Rep. Lieu, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “By pulling out of the INF, we’re relinquishing our ability to hold Russia accountable and prevent nuclear war. Trump’s hasty move demonstrates that he’s willing to risk geopolitical stability on a whim. Having served on active duty in the Air Force, I’m appalled that Trump failed to consult Congress about this decision, risking the lives of millions in the process. The Prevention of Arms Race Act helps us to ensure we won’t snowball into nuclear catastrophe.”

“There’s a reason that kids today don’t do duck-and-cover drills in schools and that nobody has bomb shelters in their backyards anymore. That reason is because of key agreements like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who introduced the Senate version of this legislation. “This era of stability is put at great risk by President Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out of the INF Treaty. This decision ignores all the lessons from the Cold War. There is no doubt that Russia is violating the INF Treaty, but the right path forward is to work to bring them back into compliance, not free them to produce more nuclear weapons. Blowing up the Treaty risks the proliferation of nuclear-capable systems by Russia, threatening Europe and jeopardizing decades of bipartisan efforts to reduce nuclear dangers with Russia. I applaud Representative Frankel and her colleagues for leading this important effort in the House.”

Nonproliferation experts agree that Russia is in violation of the treaty and that the United States must work to bring Russia back into compliance. Withdrawing from the INF Treaty without first working with our allies on a comprehensive diplomatic strategy will only embolden Russia to deploy more nuclear-capable systems with less restriction.

The Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2019 would prohibit the Trump Administration from funding the procurement, flight-testing, or deployment of INF-range missiles until they’ve exhausted diplomatic and strategic alternatives. A Senate companion was introduced on January 30, 2019, by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), along with Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

Click here for the full text of the bill.