A Threat to Nuclear Arms Control

Further, a decision by the United States to abandon the treaty would destroy a pillar of arms control, erode support for other treaties and raise further doubts about Washington’s commitments, already damaged by Mr. Trump’s repudiation of the Paris climate accord. The I.N.F. Treaty has a mechanism for resolving disputes, and the United States, backed by its allies, should pursue a solution in that forum.

Some congressmen have also taken aim at the 2010 New Start Treaty, which requires Russia and the United States to reduce their deployed nuclear warheads to 1,500 from 2,200 each by next year. The House bill would bar funds for an extension beyond its 2021 expiration unless Russia complies with the I.N.F. Treaty, an absurd reaction that would free Russia to build up its deployed warheads. There is some faint hope, though. The Russians and Americans recently issued a statement committing to hold talks on New Start and other strategic stability issues.

The House and Senate bills also include billions of dollars as a down payment on an excessive program to modernize other nuclear weapons systems, including bombers and submarines, that is expected to cost $1 trillion over 30 years. Meanwhile, some lawmakers want to cut funds for the international organization monitoring nuclear testing, in a shortsighted attempt to weaken support for a global test moratorium, which has kept all nations but North Korea from testing since 1998.

This comes as the increasingly hawkish Trump administration is conducting a review of nuclear policy, expected to be finished later this year, that officials hint could reverse President Barack Obama’s efforts to shrink the number and role of nuclear weapons in security strategy.

Since setting off the nuclear age, America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist. If it abandons that role under Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress, there will be little to stop Russia, China, India,…

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