Michael T. Klare
Ostensibly, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, announced on February 1, is intended to coerce Russia into admitting that it has violated the accord and then to destroy any weapons so identified. But the closer one looks, the more obvious it becomes that administration hawks, led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, have no interest in preserving the arms-control agreement but rather seek to embark on an arms race with Russia and China—a dynamic that will take us into dangerous territory not visited since the Cold War.
According to the INF Treaty, “intermediate-range nuclear forces” are nuclear-capable ballistic or cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or approximately 310 to 3,400 miles. These can be fired from ships, submarines, planes, or ground-based launchers; the treaty, however, covers the land-based variants only. When it was signed in 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union had deployed some 1,293 of these weapons, mostly in Europe. (Read more)
Peter Mwai & Jack Goodman
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and the continent’s biggest oil producer.
But it is a country where more than half the population lives in poverty, and 60% of the urban population cannot afford the cheapest house.
There are also some very rich Nigerians indeed and the gap between rich and poor is all too clear to see in the country’s largest cities.
Ahead of Nigeria’s elections on 16 February, BBC Reality Check examines whether the poor are getting poorer and if the wealth gap is getting wider. (Read more)
France and Italy are in a diplomatic crisis, provoked by a recent meeting between Italy’s deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, and representatives of the French Gilets Jaunes protest movement.
Di Maio has expressed his support for the Gilets Jaunes as they prepare to stand candidates in the European Parliament elections this year. This has caused so much trouble for the French president, Emmanuel Macron, that the French government has pulled its ambassador out of Rome, accusing the Italian government of making verbal attacks “without precedent since World War II”. (Read more)