How the resources below link to the Citizenship curriculum

Mainly GCSE, but also KS3:

  • International law.
  • ‘The UK’s relations with the rest of Europe, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the wider world’.
  • Parliament holding the government to account (including divisions between the Commons and the Lords).
  • Pressure groups.

The USA, Russia and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

Quick overviews of the INF and its collapse

  • A good whistle-stop tour of the INF Treaty in the context of the Cold War nuclear arms race and present-day international relations is this 2-minute BBC video.

The BBC video is best suited to higher-ability KS3 or GCSE students, although it could be differentiated by just watching snippets. The other videos could be used as a starting point for discussion with most Secondary ages and abilities. 

Publicity stunt of pro-INF Treaty campaigners in Germany, calling for the USA and Russia to focus on diplomacy not armament. The placard promotes the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo: IPPNW (Creative Commons license)

The UK’s role in the INF Treaty 

  • The UK government sided with the USA when Trump announced their prospective withdrawal from the INF if Russia wouldn’t destroy the offending missile, as did NATO (later reiterated when the US confirmed its withdrawal), which the UK is a prominent part of.
  • The House of Commons’ Defence Select Committee – an important mechanism for holding the government to account – launched an inquiry into the possible implications for UK defence, which concluded in its April 2019 report that Russia was responsible for the treaty’s demise, and that ‘it is unlikely that the Treaty will survive, as a result of Russian unwillingness to return to compliance’.
  • In striking contrast, a report by the House of Lords’ International Relations Committee in the same month stated: ‘The collapse of nuclear arms control agreements, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, risks further increasing the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used.’ The Committee’s chair said: “We urge the Government to take our serious concerns into consideration”. For a summary (and the full report) click here.
  • In April 2019, then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson stated: “We are all striving towards a nuclear weapons-free world, that’s Britain’s policy, that’s what all Western democratic nations want to see … We have led the way, by reducing the number of warheads we have and what we need to see is … nations like Russia and China following in our wake.”

With the exception of the Parliamentary Committee documents, these sources are all short quotations (or video clips) which could be further scaffolded (if needed) for use with most Secondary ages and abilities.

Analysis of the implications of the INF withdrawals 

  • For a concise summary of the potential consequences of the withdrawals from the Treaty, see this Guardian article.
  •  In addition, it may be helpful for students to acquire an understanding of the separate New START Treaty. In April 2019 this short piece suggested that the New START Treaty – due to expire in 2021 – may fare better than the INF. However, Trump will apparently wait until 2020 to decide whether or not to renew New START, and Putin stated in June 2019 that: “If no one feels like extending the agreement – New START – well, we won’t do it then … We have said a hundred times that we are ready [to extend it] … There is no formal negotiating process.”  Trump has also said that he hopes to agree a completely new nuclear arms control treaty with both Russia and China.
  • To get a sense of the House of Commons Library’s impartial public reports, there’s also this very thorough report on current and historic arms control treaties between the USA and Russia/the Soviet Union, and predictions for the future.

The longer briefings are only suitable for higher-ability GCSE students, and it may be best to focus on particular passages or quotations.

How to use these resources in your classroom

  • In small groups, students could study one or more of the resources (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), and then prepare and deliver group presentations on (for example) their evaluation of the significance of the INF Treaty withdrawals, or the merits (or lack of) of the actions of the UK government and/or CND regarding the treaty.
  •  Alternatively, students could research the INF Treaty and write a short essay on how they might have approached the situation differently, if they were in the shoes of Trump, Jong-un, or indeed May. 
  • Having researched different perspectives on the implications of the INF withdrawals (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), the class could host a debate (or a series of debates).

About this webpage

This webpage is one of six collections of topic-specific resources that could be used as part of the Citizenship classroom and homework activities referred to in the ‘Additional information and guidance for Citizenship teachers’ insert of our Truman On Trial pack. To access the pages on the other five topics, click here.

If you’d like further advice on how to implement any of the teaching suggestions from the resources webpages, or the insert, just email