What Is the INF Treaty?


Quick Answer

The INF Treaty is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed by the United States and the Soviet Republic on December 8, 1987. The treaty called for the destruction of both parties' ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges within three years of the agreement.

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Full Answer

The signing of the INF Treaty marked the first time the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate a whole category of nuclear weapons and reduce nuclear arms. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union began deploying intermediate-range missiles. As a result, the United States called for control of nuclear arms while simultaneously deploying their own intermediate-range missiles in Italy, West Germany and the United Kingdom. The two parties attempted negotiations, but they failed. In 1986, United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet general-secretary Mikhail Gorbachev resumed negotiations for a reduction of nuclear arms. They expanded the talks to include all intermediate-range missiles from both parties deployed around the world. They signed the INF Treaty the following year, and it was ratified by the United States Senate in May of 1988.

The treaty not only called for the elimination of missiles but also for on-site inspections to ensure both parties' adherence to the agreement. The treaty established the Special Verification Commission, a governing body for the treaty that both parties used to negotiate and resolve questions regarding the agreement.

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