Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was 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). 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, which was much more unequal in number of INF warheads destroyed. Under the treaty both nations were allowed to inspect each other's military installations.

This treaty strongly favored the U.S. Many treaty provisions, such as counting Soviet RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) missiles as equivalent to single-warhead Pershing II systems, including TR-1 Temp (SS-12) and R-400 Oka (SS-23) short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) into INF the treaty—while excluding all U.S. nuclear naval cruise missiles, and not taking into account expanded British and French nuclear arsenals—were clearly provisions unfavorable for the USSR. In sum, after the treaty's implementation the NATO again regained strategic nuclear superiority over USSR in Europe which existed before SS-20 deployment.

Of course, this was mitigated by the massive superiority of the USSR in conventional arms, which, if used, would allow the Red Army to "steamroll" NATO conventional forces at a time and a place of their choosing, such as the Fulda Gap or the Northern German Plain. Nor did the treaty ban Soviet SSGN platforms--nuclear submarines capable of launching nuclear-armed guided cruise missiles--with equivalent or superior technology to NATO sea-based cruise missiles.


The agreement was stimulated by the Soviet deployment of their SS-20 missile from 1975 and the US response. The SS-20 replaced existing SS-4 and SS-5 missiles. The longer range, greater accuracy, mobility and striking power of the new 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 hundreds 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-zero 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 Geman 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 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. plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Affected programs

Specific missiles destroyed:

See also

External links

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