- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2019

The chairman of the House Armed Services committee staunchly pushed back against the Trump administration’s Friday announcement to withdraw the U.S. from the International Nuclear Forces Treaty.

“The Trump administration is needlessly ignoring the concerns of our allies and partners on an issue that should unify NATO, not divide it,” Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, said in a statement.

“By withdrawing from the INF Treaty instead of making an honest, good-faith effort to collectively punish Russia for its treaty violations and bring it back into compliance, we are playing into President Putin’s hands.”

The new chairman of the committee has long been a critic of nuclear modernization and has vowed to reduce nuclear spending.

Mr. Smith was joined by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel who later released a statement condemning the decision, claiming “President Trump is alienating America’s allies, ignoring the advice of career security experts, and handing a strategic gift to Vladimir Putin.”

Mr. Engel, New York Democrat, suggested “the Administration should pursue serious diplomacy to save it, rather than rushing ahead with a plan to terminate the agreement, undermining international institutions and alienating our allies.”

“By pulling out of the agreement, the President is creating an opening for a dangerous arms race in which Russia can act with impunity,” he said.

Mr. Smith is joined by House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Jim Cooper, Tennessee Democrat, in criticizing the administration’s decision.

“Of course, the Russians have been cheating on the INF Treaty for years; the question is how we punish them for cheating,” Mr. Cooper said.

“The Trump approach is to reward them by withdrawing from the treaty ourselves. … We should rally NATO, the main beneficiaries of this treaty, to condemn Russia. But our president has been too soft on Russia and too hard on NATO. He’s got it backwards.”

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