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Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room at the White House in 1987.

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 8 December 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on 27 May 1988 and came into force on 1 June 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).

In July 2014, the United States formally notified Russia that it considers them in breach of the treaty for developing and possessing prohibited weapons, while Russian officials have called the restrictions of the treaty unsuitable for Russia given the current Asian strategic situation.[1]


  • History 1
  • Affected programs 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6


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. 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 (Nuclear and Space Talks, NST). In late 1985 both sides were moving towards limiting INF systems in Europe and Asia. On 15 January 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 11 October 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 1a systems. The treaty text was finally agreed in September 1987. On 8 December 1987, the Treaty was officially signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev at a summit in Washington and ratified the following May in a 93-5 vote by the United States Senate.

By the treaty's deadline of 1 June 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.

A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missile in 1988 prior to its destruction.

On 13 December 2001, President of the US, George W. Bush gave Russia a 6-month notice of US intent to withdraw from the ABM Treaty so that the United States could pursue development of the program at that time known as National Missile Defense (NMD)-already under way, in potential violation of US INF treaty obligations.[2]

On 10 February 2007, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin declared that the INF Treaty no longer serves Russia's interests. On 14 February, 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.[3]

In 2012, the United States complained about Russian treaty violations.[4] The two systems that appear to be violations are the R-500, a cruise missile using the 9K720 Iskander launcher, and a short ranged ICBM.[5] In July 2014, the United States formally notified Russia of the breach, while Russian officials called the treaty unsuitable for Russia and unfair because other countries in Asia had such weapons.[6]

For its part the United States is attempting to side step the treaty limits with sub launched intermediate-range missiles as one option for the Prompt Global Strike mission.[7] Russia has also called American drones a violation of the treaty.[8]

Affected programs

Specific missiles destroyed:

See also


  1. ^ Luhn, Alec; Borger, Julian (29 July 2014). "Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach". (The Guardian). Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Keir Giles with Dr. Andrew Monaghan "European Missile Defense and Russia", 17 July 2014.
  3. ^ Mark Stokes and Dan Blumenthal "Can a treaty contain China's missiles?" Washington Post, 2 January 2011.
  4. ^ Rogin, Josh (7 December 2013). "US Reluctant to Disclose to All NATO Allies that Russia is Violating INF Treaty". Daily Beast. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Jonathan (30 January 2014). "'"US briefs Nato on Russian 'nuclear treaty breach. The BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Luhn, Alec; Borger, Julian (29 July 2014). "Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach". (The Guardian). Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Keck, Zachary (4 February 2014). "US Navy Explores Sub-Launched Hypersonic Missiles". The Diplomat. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Adomanis, Mark (31 July 2014). "Russian Nuclear Treaty Violation: The Basics". (U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE). Retrieved 31 July 2014. 


  • "A survey of American History Volume II Since 1865" By Alan Brinkley, Twelfth Edition, Library on Congress # 20059365862

External links

  • 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
  • , Vol.11 page.151-182 (1988)Hiroshima Peace ScienceSeiitsu Tachibana, "Much ado about something : The factors that induced Reagan and Gorbachev to conclude the INF Treaty"
  • Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Ronald Reagan: "Statement by the President on Soviet-United States Intermediate- Range Nuclear Force Reduction Negotiations," March 27, 1987". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. 
  • Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Ronald Reagan: "Statement on Soviet-United States Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Reduction Negotiations," April 23, 1987". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. 
  • Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Ronald Reagan: "Statement on Proposed Soviet-United States Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Reductions," June 4, 1987". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. 
  • Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Ronald Reagan: "Address to the Nation on the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting," December 10, 1987". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. 
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