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Treaty on Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles Between USA and USSR (INF Treaty)
The INF Treaty was a bilateral agreement between the US and USSR. It was the first treaty to reduce nuclear arms instead of creating an arms ceiling.
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8 December 1987
Entered into force
1 June 1988
Ceased to be in force on 2 August 2019, after the U.S. formally withdrew from the Treaty
In early 1977, the USSR began deployment in Eastern Europe of the SS-20 (“Pioneer“) intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) with three independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) and the range to target all of Western Europe. In December 1979, NATO adopted a “dual-track decision,” which foresaw negotiations to address the perceived increase in the level of threat to Western Europe and, should these negotiations fail, to deploy 464 single-warhead U.S. ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) and 108 single-warhead U.S. Pershing II ballistic missiles.
The INF talks began in October 1981, and continued without result until November 1983, when, in response to the beginning of deployment of U.S. missiles, the Soviet Union left negotiations. In January 1985, U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko agreed to resume the effort (the United States classified these talks a continuation of the earlier process while the Soviet Union considered them new negotiations). While originally negotiations only addressed the INF issue in Europe, the scope was later expanded to global coverage and a new category, short-range intermediate-range missiles (SRINF) was added. The INF Treaty was signed at a summit meeting between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington on 8 December 1987.
The INF Treaty is considered an innovative, new-generation agreement, which served as an example for subsequent arms control treaties, such as START I and CFE. It eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons and introduced, for the first time, extensive verification and data exchange mechanisms, including on-site inspections. The On-Site Inspection Agency was created and tasked with INF verification duties.
Between at least 2013 and the United States’ formal withdrawal from the Treaty in 2019, the U.S. registered concerns about Russian violations of the Treaty in various public forums and meetings with Russian counterparts, and Russia alleged U.S. non-compliance with the Treaty in turn. The Trump administration formally suspended the U.S.’s compliance with the INF on 2 February 2019 and formally withdrew from the treaty by August 2019, with Russia terminating the treaty the same day.
The treaty was of unlimited duration but ceased to be in force on 2 August 2019, after the U.S. formally withdrew from the Treaty.
The Treaty entitled the Parties, in exercising their national sovereignty, to withdraw from the Treaty, after giving six months’ notice, if they decided that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the Treaty jeopardized their supreme interests (Article XV). The U.S. announced in February 2019 its intention to withdraw from the Treaty and formally did so in August 2019. Following U.S. withdrawal, Russia said the Treaty “ceased to have effect,” and the agreement was terminated.
The Parties were entitled to propose amendments to the Treaty. (Article XVI).
The Treaty includes the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Protocol on Elimination, and the Protocol on Inspection. It obligates the Parties to eliminate their intermediate-range missiles and launchers to such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment of the categories listed in the MOU associated with such missiles and launchers within three years after entry into force of the Treaty, and not have such systems thereafter (Article I and IV). The Treaty obligated the Parties to eliminate their shorter-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support equipment of the categories listed in the MOU associated with such missiles and launchers within 18 months after entry into force of the Treaty, and not have such systems thereafter (Article I and V).
The intermediate-range missile was defined as ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBM) or GLCM having a range between 1,000 km to 5,500 km. The shorter-range missile was defined as GLBMs or GLCMs with a range between 500 km and 1,000 km (Article II). The Treaty covered the following intermediate-range missiles: for the United States, Pershing II and BGM-109G; for the Soviet Union, SS-20, SS-4, and SS-5. As for shorter-range missiles: for the United States, Pershing IA; for the USSR, SS-12 and SS-23 (Article III).
The INF Treaty applied to all land-based missiles regardless of their equipment. A special clarification, adopted in the spring of 1988 during the ratification process, elaborated that it covered all missiles falling under the definition irrespective of whether they were equipped with nuclear, conventional, or “exotic” warheads.
Subsequently, a controversy emerged in the Soviet Union with regard to the inclusion of the SS-23 (“Oka”) missile into the INF Treaty. According to the Soviet view, the SS-23 had never been tested to the range of 500 km and was included at the insistence of the United States (the list of existing missiles covered by the Treaty was separate from the definition of INF).
The Treaty banned production or flight-testing of any intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles or production of any stages of such missiles or any launchers of such missiles (Article VI). It permitted the Parties to use intermediate-range missiles if they were test-launched at a test site from a fixed land-based launcher distinguishable from GLBM launchers. The Parties are entitled to produce and use for booster systems, which might otherwise be considered to be intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles, only existing types of booster stages for such booster systems. Launches of such booster systems were not be considered as flight-testing of intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles provided that stages used in such booster systems were different from stages used in those missiles listed as existing types of intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles in Article III of the Treaty; such booster systems are used only for research and development purposes to test objects other than the booster systems themselves; the aggregate number of launchers for such booster systems would not exceed 35 for each Party at any one time; and the launchers for such booster systems were fixed, emplaced above ground and located only at research and development launch sites, which were specified in the MOU (Article VII).
The Treaty obligated the Parties to keep their intermediate-range missiles and their launchers in deployment areas, at missile support facilities, or in transit (movement of a missile or a launcher of such missile between different facilities); and their shorter-range missiles and their launchers, until their removal to elimination facilities, at missile operating bases, at missile support facilities, or in transit, which was to be completed within 25 days. The Parties were forbidden to increase the number of, or change the location or boundaries of, deployment areas, missile operating bases, or missile support facilities, except for elimination facilities, from those set forth in the MOU. No later that 30 days after the Treaty’s entry into force, the Parties became obligated not to locate intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles, including stages or launchers of such missiles, at missile production facilities, launcher production facilities, or test ranges listed in the MOU (Article VIII).
Elimination of items subject to the Treaty was to be completed no later than three years from its entry into force. The Treaty provided for the elimination of the intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles subject to the Treaty at the designated elimination facilities, specified by the MOU. It entitled each Party, during the first six months after entry into force of the Treaty, to eliminate by means of launching no more than 100 of its intermediate-range missiles. The Treaty provided for the elimination of both the missiles that had been tested and deployed prior to the Treaty’s entry into force and those that had been tested but not deployed, including the Pershing IB for the United States, and the RK-55 (SSC-X-4) for the Soviet Union. Together with the missiles, their launchers and support equipment, the Parties were obligated to eliminate their deployment areas, missile operating bases, and missile support facilities. Specific procedures for the elimination of missiles, equipment, and facilities were outlined in the Elimination Protocol (EP). The Treaty permitted the Parties to convert a missile-operating base listed in the MOU for use as a base associated with GLBM or GLCM systems not subject to the Treaty (Article X).
Verification and Compliance
The Treaty provides for data exchange and notifications through Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers. The Parties are obligated to provide notifications of the elimination of a specific deployment area, missile operating base, or missile support facility; changes in the number or location of elimination facilities, including the location and scheduled date of each change; the scheduled date of initiation of the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, including the stages, launchers, support structures, and support equipment associated with such missiles and launchers; the scheduled date of the launch, or the scheduled date of the initiation of a series of launches, of intermediate-range missiles for the purpose of their elimination; changes in the number of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, including launcher, support structures, and support equipment associated with such missiles and launchers, resulting from elimination; transit of intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles or launchers of such missiles, or the movement of training missiles or training launchers for such missiles; and the scheduled date and location of the launch of a research and development booster system as described in Article VII of the Treaty (Article IX).
The Treaty entitled the Parties to conduct on-site inspections, both within the territory of the other Party and within the territories of basing countries; each Party to the Treaty undertook to conclude special agreements with basing countries to allow for inspections in their territories. The Parties were allowed to inspect missile operating bases, missile support facilities, missile production facilities, and elimination facilities (Article XI). The Inspection Protocol specified detailed procedures required for the preparation and conduct of on-site inspections and their rules.
Types of inspections to verify compliance with the Treaty:
- Baseline inspections (to verify data exchanged on Treaty-limited items (TLI));
- Closeout inspections (to verify that all INF-related activities had ceased);
- Elimination inspections (to confirm the destruction of missiles, launchers, and associated equipment);
- Quota or short-notice inspections (The Parties were entitled to conduct inspections for 13 years after the Treaty’s entry into force: 20 such inspections per calendar year during the first three years after entry into force of the Treaty, 15 such inspections per calendar year during the subsequent five years, and 10 such inspections per calendar year during the last five years.); and
- Continuous Portal Monitoring inspections (to permit monitors located outside the facility to ensure that prohibited SS-20s or Pershing IIs were not being produced and shipped.) These inspections were permitted only at two facilities: Votkinsk, Russia (former SS-20 final assembly facility) and Magna, Utah (former Pershing II production facility.)
The Parties were also entitled to use national technical means of verification (NTM) at their disposal in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law. They were prohibited from interfering with NTM of the other Party and using concealment measures that impeded verification of compliance with the provisions of this Treaty by NTM (Article XII).
The States-parties’ rights to conduct on-site inspections under the treaty ended on 31 May 2001, but the use of surveillance satellites for data collection continued until the treaty was terminated in 2019.
The Treaty established the SVC to resolve questions relating to compliance with the obligations assumed; and to decide on such measures as may be necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of this Treaty (Article XII).
On 2 August, the U.S. formally withdrew from the Treaty. Russia issued a statement indicating that the Treaty was terminated and no longer in effect.
On 1 February, the Trump administration formally announced its suspension of compliance with the INF, and its intention to withdraw from the treaty in six months on 2 August. In turn, Russia suspended its observance of the treaty on 2 February. During this six-month period, both countries remain party to the treaty, although discussions between the two countries remain contentious and negotiations appear to have stalled.
On 17 April, The U.S. published the “2018 Report on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.” The report claimed Russia continued to be in violation of the INF treaty by possessing or producing intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles.
On 4 October, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a statement during a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, accusing Russia of being in “blatant violation” of the INF treaty.
On 19 October the United States announced that it would withdraw unilaterally from the INF, citing Russian violations of the Treaty. U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton confirmed that the U.S. would withdraw from the Treaty “in due course” After a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
On 4 December, the United States publicly gave Russia a 60-day ultimatum to satisfy the U.S.’s complaints that Russia has violated the INF. In a show of support, NATO’s foreign ministers formally declared Russia in “material breach” of the treaty. The U.S threatened to formally initiate the 6-month withdrawal process from the treaty in February 2019.
On 14 February, Russia allegedly deployed a secret ground-launched intermediate range cruise missile. The missile in question is the SSC-8 GLCM (previously denoted as SSC-X-8). In a House Armed Services Committee hearing on 8 March, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that the deployment was a violation of “the spirit and intent” of the INF Treaty. Russian authorities denied the allegation and stated that Russia would continue to adhere to its INF Treaty obligations.
On 28 June, the House Armed Services Committee voted 60-1 to send H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY18, to the House floor. Subtitle E of the NDAA, “Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017,” seeks to declare Russia in “material breach” of the Treaty and sets aside $75 million in funding for US response options. $50 million is slated for military options to counter Russia’s deployed intermediate-range systems and $25 million will go toward research and development of US intermediate range systems. The Senate version of the FY18 NDAA would authorize $65 million for research and development of a US ground-launched intermediate-range missile capability. It is unclear whether the proposals will make it into the final 2018 defense budget as there is significant disagreement within Congress and the Trump administration on the future of the INF Treaty.
On 16 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon started research to develop a missile banned by the Treaty in an effort to bring Moscow into compliance.
On 8 December, the State Department announced that the United States is pursuing economic and military measures intended to induce Russia to return to compliance.
On 12-14 December, the Thirty-First Session of the Special Verification Commission under 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 was held in Geneva. Switzerland.
On 15 December, the North Atlantic Council released a statement on the Treaty, determining the U.S. to be in compliance and identifying a Russian missile system of concern.
On 12 May the U.S. made Aegis anti-ballistic missile system was activated in Romania. Russian officials declared this to be in violation of the INF treaty and a direct threat to Russian security
On 19 October, American officials stated their concern that a new Russian program to produce ground launched cruise missiles violated the INF Treaty.
On 11 December, nonproliferation experts released evidence that Russia was in the process of deploying Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad exclave, north of Poland. Satellite imagery shows construction of “tent-mobile” shelters, consistent with other Iskander deployment sites. The Iskander missile system is associated with the 9M729 GLCM (SSC-X-8), which is believed to be the missile at the center of US accusations of Russian violation of the INF Treaty.
On 18 February, Russian Ambassador-at-Large Grigory Berdennikov said that though Moscow and Washington held divergent positions on several issues, they both agree that the INF Treaty should become a multilateral agreement.
On 30 April, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov stressed the importance of the INF Treaty in an interview with a Russian newspaper. He expressed Russian concerns on US compliance with the treaty and emphasized Russian compliance.
On 9 June, Russia announced that it had successfully test fired a short-range anti-ballistic missile defense system, four days after the Pentagon announced that it was considering putting US missiles in Europe.
On 30 October, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove Commander to the NATO Allied Command held a press conference in which he acknowledged the missile test conducted by Russia the month previous as a potential violation to the INF Treaty.
On 17 January, acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller met with NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Committee in Brussels. She informed them of Russia’s confirmed GLCM tests, which, while in violation of the INF Treaty, were hoped to be prevented in the future through continued negotiation.
In February, at a press conference responding to U.S. concerns about Russia’s INF Treaty violations, former head of the Russian strategic missile forces Colonel General Viktor Yesin stated U.S. violations of the treaty “were a lot more numerous” than those of Russia, and asserted that the issues were being taken care of through diplomatic means.
On 23 May, a group of ten Republican senators demanded an investigation of Rose Gottemoeller’s activities concerning Russia’s violations of the INF Treaty and her neglect to inform the Senate of these compliance concerns during crucial discussions for ratifying the New START Treaty. Led by Senators Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, the group urged the Defense Department’s inspector general to examine Gottemoeller’s record, particularly due to her confirmed position as the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
On 17 July, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer remarked at a House Armed Services Committee hearing that Russian missile tests were creating a “disturbing pattern of disregard for international agreements.”
On 29 July, the U.S. officially declared Russia in violation of the INF treaty in the State Department’s 2014 Compliance Report. Though there are no details in the report that pinpoint the exact illicit weapon system or specify a date, the general description is a GLCM ranging 310 to 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 kilometers).
On 30 July, The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the American accusations of their violation of the INF Treaty. On the contrary Russia stated that the United States had violated the treaty by testing missiles with similar qualities to intermediate-range missiles, as well as producing drones, which are covered under the Treaty definition of GLCM. Former Russian Lieutenant General Yevegniy Buzhinsky called the move “an information war… against Russia.”
On 17 December, Rose Gottemoeller, the Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the US Department of State, stated that the US remains ready to discuss alleged violations with Russia but Russia has shown no willingness to continue the discussion.
On 24 October, in response to Russia’s 10 October test of its SS-25, also known as RS-12M, intercontinental ballistic missile, State Department representatives denied accusations that Russia was breaching the accords of the INF Treaty.
In November, at a classified meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon, along with acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, stated that Russia had been violating the INF Treaty.
On 27 September, the Russians instigated its first test launch of the long-range missile called RS-26 Rubezh, which was suspiciously similar in design to the SS-20 Saber from the 1980s. Though the test inevitably failed, the development of the Rubezh, in conjunction with suspected activities surrounding a new Russian cruise missile, sparked compliance violation concerns within the U.S. intelligence community by the end of the year.
On 17 February, a diplomatic-military source in Moscow said that “Russia and the USA are planning to go back to the issue of prospects for keeping or revoking the INF treaty after a new START treaty has been signed.”
On 24 April, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated his country maintained its proposal for the universalization of the INF Treaty.
On 12 February, the Russian delegation to the Conference on Disarmament presented a set of proposals towards globalizing the obligations set forth in the INF Treaty.
On 6 April, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin issued a joint “U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration” which specified with regards to the INF Treaty that the two governments were to work together to identify new missile threats and deal with those threats together.
On 30 May, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that a global INF Treaty would facilitate missile non-proliferation and make the U.S. plans to install a global missile defense system unnecessary.
On 7 February, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the State Duma that Russia was much weaker because of the elimination of the SS-20 missiles under the INF treaty, a statement coinciding with renewed U.S. plans to deploy an ABM system in Europe.
On 10 February, at the Munich Security Conference, Russia’s President Putin suggested reconsidering the INF Treaty, as many countries are actively pursuing weapons the U.S. and Russia pledged to refrain from. At the same conference, Defense Minister Ivanov raised the issue of countries “near [Russia’s] borders” possessing this type of armament and stated “the treaty is simply a cold war vestige and we are concerned.”
As a consequence of the statements in Munich, on 15 February, Russian army’s Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky stated that Russia’s decision on unilateral withdrawal from the treaty would depend on further U.S. actions concerning anti-ballistic missile defense in Eastern Europe. In response, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, however, that no decision had yet been made. On 16 February, the head of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee Viktor Ozerov also said that Russia might reconsider its membership in the INF Treaty, citing the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty as precedent. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that a Russian abrogation of the INF Treaty would be a problem for the U.S. and Europe.
On 20 April, the Defense Ministry stated that Russia possesses the necessary capabilities to resume the production of ballistic missiles eliminated under the INF Treaty. On 24 April, Russian army’s Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky said he saw no reason for Russia to withdraw from the INF Treaty yet.
On 12 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that the INF Treaty should become multilateral and pointed out that Russia would find it difficult to remain in the treaty that does not regulate missile development in other countries.
On 25 October, in a joint statement to the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, Russia and the United States called on all countries to join a global INF Treaty.
On 14 November, Russian Colonel General Vladimir Zaritsky announced that if Russia were to withdraw from the INF Treaty, the Iskander missile system could be modernized and its range extended.
On 27 November, Russian Major General Yevgeniy Borodunov cited Iran’s development of a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km as an argument in support of Russia’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
On December 4, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev emphasized the importance of Russia preserving the INF Treaty.
On 24 April, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov stated the INF treaty was a relic of the Cold War, but Russia was not yet discussing a possible withdrawal.
At the end of August, Russian media reported that at a meeting in Alaska with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov had again mentioned the possibility of his country withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
At the beginning of March, Russian media reported that, at a meeting in January, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov had asked his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, about his views of a hypothetical Russian withdrawal from the INF Treaty.
On 15 March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko restated Russia’s adherence to the INF Treaty in order to counter existent rumors that the Russian defense minister had inquired about the U.S. reaction to a Russian withdrawal from the treaty.
On 31 October, Bulgaria reported that it had destroyed its last SS-23 tactical ballistic missiles. Bulgaria was the last country in Europe possessing these missiles. The Bulgarian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a resolution on destruction of SS-23s in December 2001.
On 4 January, a Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the United States of violating START I by failing to use treaty-approved elimination procedures for the second and third stages of Peacekeeper (MX) ICBMs. The statement also warned that the U.S. government would be in violation of the INF Treaty if these stages were used to create an IRBM under the guise of designing a ballistic missile target. The statement also claims that the Hera ballistic missile target, which uses Minuteman II stages, is in fact an IRBM and its existence constitutes a violation of the INF Treaty.
In February, the Russian government declared that the U.S. testing of the Hera missile for the development of the missile defense system violated the provisions of the INF Treaty. It noted that Moscow had scrapped its SS-23 missile with a similar range at the insistence of the United States. The Hera was built using the second and third stages of the Minuteman-II missile (with certain modifications), and, according to some sources, guidance components from the Pershing missile which was eliminated under the INF Treaty. The missile’s maximum range is about 1,000 km. The United States justified its position by categorizing the Hera missile as a “booster system,” which the Parties have the right to produce and use (paragraph 12 of Article VII).
On 28 March, Russian Lieutenant General Vyacheslav Romanov stated that should the United States withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty, Russia might stop adhering to the INF Treaty. In previous similar statements, Strategic Rocket Forces Commander General Yakovlev threatened to deploy a “shortened” intermediate-range variant of the Topol (SS-25 “Sickle”) missile and a new short-range ballistic missile type that had already been designed, but not built or tested. Yakovlev said these missiles would be targeted against U.S. military forces and facilities in Europe.
On 31 May, the December 2000 Agreement on terminating inspection and monitoring activities entered into force. During the 13-year existence of the Treaty, over 440 sites had been inspected in the United States and over 770 on the territory of the USSR and successor States.
On 1 June, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stated that the United States would be in violation of the Treaty if it were to use the second and third stages of Peacekeeper (MX) ICBMs to create an IRBM under the guise of designing a ballistic missile target.
On 21 June, in a speech delivered to the graduates of Peter the Great Missile Academy, SRF Commander in Chief General Vladimir Yakovlev cited a range of possible “asymmetrical” measures Russia might take if the United States withdraws from the ABM Treaty. They included abandoning the INF Treaty and deploying intermediate-range missiles that have been banned by the treaty. According to Yakovlev, these missiles would be targeted against U.S. military forces and facilities in Europe. He also said that the Russian government has studied this issue at length and has prepared appropriate plans to implement this option. Responding to a reporter’s question about whether such move would make Europe a hostage to U.S.-Russian rivalry, Yakovlev said that this could be avoided if dialogue on Vladimir Putin’s proposals for European non-strategic missile defense were maintained. According to the 4th Central Scientific Research Institute Chief, General Vladimir Dvorkin, Russia could reintroduce INF-banned Pioner [NATO designation SS-20 ‘Saber’] IRBMs by shortening Topol [NATO designation SS-25 ‘Sickle’] ICBMs by one stage and increasing their payload from one to three warheads. According to some sources, Yakovlev’s statement was sanctioned by the government in order to deter the United States from going forward with national missile defense plans. Russian journalists noted, however, that Russian IRBM deployments might lead to a U.S. reply in kind, an outcome which, on balance, would be detrimental to Russian security interests.
On 15 November, ITAR-TASS reported that Russia considers the existence of the Hera ballistic missile target to be a violation of the INF Treaty. Hera ballistic missile targets, which utilize the second and third stages of Minuteman II ICBMs, are used by the United States to simulate hostile ballistic missiles in tests of theater ABM systems, such as THAAD and Patriot PAC-3. The U.S. government considers the Hera to be INF-compliant under Article 12 of the treaty, which allows the use of existing missile stages for scientific purposes, whereas Russia reportedly considers it to be an IRBM. A separate ITAR-TASS report issued on the same day, also citing “informed sources” in Moscow, claimed that the Hera’s alleged use of Pershing II IRBM guidance systems and flight tests at the White Sands Proving Ground further confirmed that it was a mobile nuclear-capable IRBM whose existence violates the INF Treaty. The Russian Defense Ministry is reportedly concerned that Minuteman III modernization programs might considerably improve the capabilities of the Hera, extending its range to 5000km from the current 1000km through the use of retired Minuteman III stages. Military experts noted that the deployment of such missiles in Europe would force other states to seek appropriate countermeasures. According to “informed sources in force structures” cited in a 24 November 2000 article in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, Russia may in the near future officially accuse the United States of violating the treaty. The article also speculates that the leaks of information concerning this issue may presage a Russian diplomatic offensive aimed at dissuading the U.S. government from withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.
On 14 December, the Parties signed an amendment to the Treaty’s Memorandum of Agreement outlining the procedures for ending on-site inspections and monitoring activities of the missile production plants located in Magna (Utah) and Votkinsk (Udmurtiya, Russia). The Agreement provides that the Treaty’s inspection and monitoring regime would expire on 31 May 2001.
On 5 March, Slovakia announced that it would destroy its SS-23 missiles before their lifespan expiration date as part of a plan to restructure its army to make it more suitable for NATO membership. Slovakia announced that it would also destroy its SS-1 Scud-B tactical ballistic missiles.
At the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Treaty, Russia announced that it had eliminated 1,846 intermediate-range and short-range missiles, 587 launchers, and monitored the elimination of 846 U.S. missiles and 288 launchers.
Bulgaria and Slovakia continued to reject U.S. requests to destroy their SS-23 missiles. Slovakia reiterated that it was not planning to decommission any of these missiles prematurely (the service life would end in 2000). Bulgaria claimed that no international agreement that Bulgaria was a party to covered the SS-23 missiles. The United States underscored its determination to continue efforts to prevent proliferation of these “Category 1” missiles, i.e., missiles capable of carrying WMD, and to carry on its dialogue with Bulgaria and Slovakia in order to achieve this goal.
On 21 November, the United States and Russia signed an agreement on the inspection procedures for the exit from the Votkinsk plant of space launch vehicles. The problem of such inspections surfaced several years ago after some missiles that exited the facility did not undergo all the inspection procedures required by the Treaty. The Parties agreed that while such vehicles exited, Russia would notify the United States of the exit of the vehicles and provide their “unique identifiers.” The agreement specified the technical data to be used to identify the launch canister during measurement of the canister, and for the imaging of its contents.
In July, the Czech Republic eliminated the SS-23 missiles it inherited from the former Czechoslovakia, which had received the missiles from the USSR. Former Czech missiles were divided between the Czech Republic and Slovakia on a 2:1 ratio, hence the Czech Republic retained 16 missiles, and Slovakia, 8.
Bulgaria continued to retain its SS-23 missiles received from the USSR before the signature of the Treaty. The Bulgarians argued that the missiles could not use nuclear warheads and were needed for national security purposes.
The Slovaks reported that the SS-23 missiles they inherited from Czechoslovakia had a range of less than 500 km and also lacked critical components permitting the use of nuclear warheads. The Slovak advisor to the defense minister claimed that these missiles were not subject to any disarmament agreements.
By 1 February, the Parties had conducted more than 700 inspections: the United States, 452; the USSR/Russia, 270. From February 1994, the United States began carrying out inspections in other former USSR republics, namely, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
In June, the United States again raised the issue of the multilateralization of the Treaty. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director John Holum said that the United States should consider opening up the basic obligations of the Treaty to every country in the world by inviting, encouraging, and pressing all countries to forego the threat of INF missiles, under global nonproliferation norms. The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was still considering whether a global ban should be achieved by expanding the Treaty (the working title of the expanded Treaty was the Medium Range Missile Ban (MRMB)) or by negotiating an entirely new treaty. Experts were cautious about the globalization of the Treaty because of its possible negative implications for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). They argued that it would potentially create a less stringent agreement that would not include tactical ballistic missiles.
In, according to the ACDA annual report, Germany, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia continued to possess SS-23 missiles – the class of missiles the Treaty sought to eliminate.
On 3 November, the Treaty was multilateralized with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine signing the document ensuring its continued implementation.
On 9 October, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) signed an agreement on participation in the Treaty. In December, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine held a meeting to consult on the implementation of the October agreement.
On 14 November, Germany announced that it rendered inoperable all 24 SS-23 missiles supplied to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Soviet Union prior to the signature of the Treaty. These missiles had also been supplied to Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. Since 1990, the United States had insisted that these missiles should be eliminated in accordance with Treaty provisions, while the Soviet Union contended that these missiles did not fall under the Treaty. Bulgaria announced that these missiles enhanced the country’s defense capabilities. In an annual report to Congress, the United States also mentioned SS-4 and SS-5 support equipment allegedly undeclared by the USSR.
On 5 April, at the 10th session of the SVC, the Parties signed two amendments to the memorandum on verification procedures. The first concerned the use of a system in Votkinsk (Russia) to determine whether missiles emerging from the site were SS-20 missiles, and the second permitted U.S. and Soviet inspectors to carry dosimeters for the purpose of personal medical monitoring during inspections.
On 27 May, the United States completed the elimination of 234 Pershing II and 443 BGM-109 LRINF missiles, as well as 169 Pershing IA SRINF missiles. On 28 May, the Soviet Union completed the elimination of 654 SS-20, 149 SS-4, 6 SS-5, and 80 SSC-X-4 LRINF missiles, as well as 239 SS-23, and 718 SS-12 SRINF missiles. By May, all elimination inspections had been completed. By 1 June, as required by the Treaty, the Parties had eliminated all the missiles covered by the Treaty. By August 1991, all closeout inspections had been completed.
On 27 September, President Bush announced the cancellation of a short-range attack missile program and the unilateral withdrawal of all remaining army ground-based tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) and Navy TNW worldwide. (Air Force and Marine TNW were not affected.) The United States called on the Soviet Union to destroy its entire inventory of ground-launched TNW.
On 5 October, the Soviet Union responded with the unilateral withdrawal of TNW and called for the elimination of air-based weapons. The Soviet Union announced that all nuclear artillery munitions, nuclear warheads for tactical missiles, and nuclear mines shall be eliminated; nuclear warheads for air defense missiles shall be withdrawn from the troops and concentrated in central bases, and a portion of them shall be eliminated; and all TNW shall be removed from surface ships and multipurpose submarines and stored in central storage sites, while part of them shall be eliminated. The Soviet Union proposed that the United States, on the basis of reciprocity, completely eliminate all TNW of naval forces and withdraw from combat units on frontal (tactical) aviation all nuclear weapons (gravity bombs and air-launched missiles) and place them in centralized storage bases.
By 26 April, the Soviet Union had destroyed 1,590 of 1,846 missiles, while the United States had destroyed 480 out of 480 missiles.
On 3 May, the United States announced the cancellation of its short-range missile program in Europe and any further modernization of U.S. nuclear artillery shells deployed in Europe. On 27 September, the last U.S. Pershing II missile left Germany. On 4 October, Germany decommissioned its 72 Pershing IA missiles and associated launchers.
In September, the United States was considering opening the Treaty to other countries and offering help for space programs in return for their adherence to the Treaty, but the U.S. Department of Defense opposed such plans.
On 12 April, the USSR proposed negotiations on the short-range nuclear forces (SNF) with a range less than 500 km, and later in May, announced a unilateral cutoff of 500 SNF weapons. The United States stated that negotiations on SNF should begin after the implementation of the CFE Treaty was completed.
On 6 January 1988, the United States established the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA) to conduct on-site inspections, escort, and monitoring activities under the Treaty.
On 11-12 May, the Parties resolved a few final questions through an exchange of a series of letters and memoranda. On 27 May, the U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty. The following day, on 28 May, the Treaty was ratified by the Soviet Union. This cleared the way for the Treaty’s entry into force on 1 June 1988.
On 2 June, the Parties began continuous monitoring of one another’s missile production facilities. On 22 July, the USSR began the elimination process. On 29 August, all baseline inspections were completed. On 8 September, the United States began the elimination process.