The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and came into force on June 1 of that year. The treaty is formally titled The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. The treaty eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges, defined as between 500-5,500 km (300-3,400 miles).
The longer range, greater accuracy, mobility and striking power of the new Soviet SS-20 missile was perceived to alter the security of Western Europe. After discussions, NATO agreed to a two part strategy—firstly to pursue arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union to reduce their and the American INF arsenals; secondly to deploy in Europe from 1983 up to 464 ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) and 108 Pershing II ballistic missiles. Until the late 1970s NATO had clear superiority over USSR in INF systems because Soviets possessed only liquid-fueled, single warhead, very inaccurate, and easy to destroy IRBMs and a few hundred, equally outdated subsonic heavy bombers of Tu-16 and Tu-22 types. In contrast, NATO and USAFE had Mirage IV, V-force and brand-new F-111 bombers in addition to French, British, and US precise, solid propelled IRBMs and SLBMs based in Europe and on adjacent waters. So Soviet attempts to close the "INF gap" by SS-20 and Tu-22M deployment was met with NATO moves to secure Western alliance nuclear advantage in Europe thanks to GLCM and Pershing II installation.
Despite dissatisfaction with the deployment of US weapons in Europe, the Soviet Union agreed to open negotiations and preliminary discussions began in Geneva in 1980. Formal talks began in September 1981 with the US "zero option" offer—the complete elimination of all Pershing, GLCM, SS-20, SS-4 and SS-5 missiles. Following disagreement over the exclusion of British and French delivery systems, the talks were suspended by the Soviet delegation in November 1983. In 1984, despite public protest, the US began to deploy INF systems in West Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
In March 1986, negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union resumed, covering not only the INF issue but also separate discussions on strategic weapons (START I) and space issues (NST). In late 1985 both sides were moving towards limiting INF systems in Europe and Asia. On January 15, 1986, Gorbachev announced a Soviet proposal for a ban on all nuclear weapons by 2000, which included INF missiles in Europe. This was dismissed by the US and countered with a phased reduction of INF launchers in Europe and Asia to none by 1989. There would be no constraints on British and French nuclear forces.
A series of meetings in August and September 1986 culminated in the Reykjavík Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev on October 11, 1986. Both agreed in principle to remove INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads. Gorbachev also proposed deeper and more fundamental changes in the strategic relationship. More detailed negotiations extended throughout 1987, aided by the decision of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in August to unilaterally remove the joint U.S.-West German Pershing IA systems. The treaty text was finally agreed in September 1987. On December 8, 1987, the Treaty was officially signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev at a summit in Washington.
By the treaty's deadline of June 1, 1991, a total of 2,692 of such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the U.S. and 1,846 by the Soviet Union. Under the treaty both nations were allowed to inspect each other's military installations. Each nation was permitted to render inoperative and retain 15 missiles, 15 launch canisters and 15 launchers for static display.
On February 10, 2007, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin declared that the INF Treaty no longer serves Russia's interests. On February 14, ITAR-Tass and Interfax quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky, the Russian military's chief of general staff, as saying that Russia could pull out of the INF, and that the decision would depend on the United States' actions with its proposed Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missile defense system, parts of which the U.S. at the time planned to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic (since then, the plans have been abandoned in favor of different systems based on sea and in Romania, see National missile defense).
Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute has written that the actual Russian problem with the INF is that China is not bound by it and continues to build up their own Intermediate-Range forces.
Specific missiles destroyed:
- United States
- Soviet Union
- Mark Stokes and Dan Blumenthal "Can a treaty contain China's missiles?" Washington Post, 2 January 2011.
- "A survey of American History Volume II Since 1865" By Alan Brinkley, Twelfth Edition, Library on Congress # 20059365862
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.|
- Full text of the treaty
- Future of Arms Control after the Iceland Summit from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
- Gorbachev on Arms Control from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
- Seiitsu Tachibana, "Much ado about something : The factors that induced Reagan and Gorbachev to conclude the INF Treaty" Hiroshima Peace Science, Vol.11 page.151-182 (1988)
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