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Vox Sentences: RIP INF

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The end of a US-Russia missile treaty could kick-start another arms race; a trade war between South Korea and Japan is hurting the tech market.

The US withdraws from a major missile treaty

Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The US officially withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement Friday, kicking off the possibility of a new arms race between the US and Russia. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • The INF is a Cold War-era treaty signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 in an attempt to improve the relationship between the two countries. Missiles that could fly 310 to 3,400 miles were banned under the treaty. [BBC]
  • However, the US has accused Russia of violating the accord for years — a claim that NATO allies have backed — despite Russia’s denial. [Deutsche Welle / Seda Serdar]
  • In February, President Donald Trump said he would pull out of the INF if Russia did not comply with the treaty by August 2. Shortly afterward, President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s obligations to the treaty. [CNN / Nicole Gaouette and Barbara Starr]
  • The US is already planning to resume missile testing as soon as later this summer, although Russia is no longer the main target. The US will most likely try to counter China, a rival that is estimated to have one of the most advanced conventional missile arsenals in the world. [NYT / David E. Sanger and Edward Wong]
  • The US’s abandonment of the treaty is raising concern among Asian and European countries that thought nuclear geopolitics was a thing of the past. A renewed arms race could cause political turmoil in many countries. [Voice of America / Steve Herman]

A trade war between Japan and South Korea

  • South Korea and Japan are in the midst of an intense trade war that stems from a deep historical conflict. [Bloomberg / Isabel Reynolds and Sam Kim]
  • In its latest move, Japan has removed Korea from its “white list,” which gives trade perks to trusted partners. The decision comes after Japan had already restricted the export of chemicals crucial to Korea’s semiconductor, memory chip, and display panel industry. [CNN / Sherisse Pham]
  • What has caused the rift? Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo initially said Japan was restricting exports because he’s concerned South Korea is leaking sensitive technology to North Korea –– which South Korea vehemently denies. [Telegraph / Julian Ryall]
  • The real reason behind the trade war is more political: Last year, a South Korean court ruled that Japanese companies must pay compensation for using forced labor during Japan’s colonization of Korea even though Japan claimed the matter was already settled in a 1965 pact that restored diplomatic relations. [NYT / Ben Dooley]
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the export restrictions are in retaliation to the court ruling. [NYT / Ben Dooley]
  • This trade war could have global implications because two South Korean companies, Samsung and SK Hynix, control 63 percent of the memory chip market (your iPhone probably has a Korean-made memory chip in it). That means Japan’s trade restrictions could have a widespread impact on the global tech supply chain. [CNN / Lindsay Isaac, Sophie Jeong, and Junko Ogura]
  • This could also be an opportunity for China to step up in the tech market: Increasing its production of semiconductors by 2025 was already one of its key goals. [South China Morning Post / Lee Jeong-ho]


Cyntoia Brown received a life sentence at age 16 for killing a man who solicited her for sex, in what she said was self-defense. Now 31, she’ll finally leave prison a free woman next week. [CNN / Leanna Faulk and Jamiel Lynch]

  • ”History in the making”: Women in Saudi Arabia are finally allowed to travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian. This ends the system that keeps adult women as legal minors and their husband, father, or male relative as their guardian. [Al Jazeera]
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is the only black Republican in the US House of Representatives. He won’t be running for reelection in 2020. [NPR / Jessica Taylor]
  • An FBI reports warns of the dangers of “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” citing conspiracy theories such as QAnon and Pizzagate. This is the first such report from the bureau to look at conspiracy theories and their connections to violence. [NBC News / Ben Collins]
  • A new law in New Jersey now gives terminally ill patients the right to decide when they want to die. It remains controversial among religious leaders, disability advocates, and doctors. [ / Susan K. Livio]


“When it expires tomorrow, the world will lose an invaluable brake on nuclear war. This will likely heighten, not reduce, the threat posed by ballistic missiles.” [UN Secretary General António Guterres on the end of the INF agreement]

Watch this: Where Manhattan’s grid came from

Manhattan is famous for its grid — so famous that people take pictures of the way the sun shines through it. But the origin of that grid wasn’t always certain, and not everybody is a fan. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]

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