By Arul Louis,
New York : US President Donald Trump has proposed a new nuclear missiles treaty that has the potential to include India as he delivered the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
Defending his decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, he said in the speech Tuesday night, “Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t” — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.
The INF treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev banned land-based missiles of 1,000 to 5,000 kilometres.
Some of the Prithvi and Agni class missiles in India’s arsenal could fall under the ambit of such a treaty, as well as some of Pakistan’s Babur, Shaheen and Ghauri missiles.
Trump defended his decision to withdraw from the INF treaty saying, “Russia repeatedly violated its terms.”
His ceremonial speech which had been postponed last month in the middle of showdown over the funding in the budget for a border wall by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, had calls for unity across the political divide.
It did not have any direct references to India or region, except for US negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan “to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan.”
“My Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban,” he said.
“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism,” he said.
But he added, “We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement, but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”
Another matter of relevance to India was on trade, when he asked for support for Reciprocal Trade Act.
“If another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us,” he said.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @arulouis)