INF Treaty

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INF Treaty (1987).Signed by U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 7 December 1987, the treaty on the elimination of U.S. and Soviet intermediate‐ and shorter‐range missiles was the first arms control agreement to eliminate—not simply set limits on—nuclear missile systems. Informally known as the INF Treaty (or Intermediate‐range Nuclear Forces Treaty), it required the destruction of all U.S. and Soviet ground‐launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers and of the missiles' essential infrastructure. The treaty resulted in the elimination within three years of 846 U.S. longer‐ and shorter‐range INF missile systems and 1,846 similar Soviet systems, and it banned such systems in the future.

In the mid‐1970s, the Soviets deployed new, highly accurate, intermediate‐range mobile Soviet SS‐20 missile systems, targeted on Europe. A 1979 NATO “dual‐track” response to pursue arms control talks while proceeding with counterdeployments of new, modernized U.S. intermediate missile systems in Europe led to the INF negotiations, which began in Geneva on 30 November 1981. The talks were briefly terminated by the Soviet Union on 23 November 1983 as deployments of the new U.S. systems began, but resumed in Geneva in March 1985 as part of broader discussions on nuclear and space issues.

To ensure compliance, the INF Treaty contains the most extensive verification structure achieved to that time, including a comprehensive regimen of on‐site inspections and a provision for continuous monitoring of the former INF missile production plants at Votkinsk, Russia, and Magna, Utah, in the United States to confirm the treaty's production ban. The treaty's pioneering verification process has served as the model for all subsequent arms control agreements. In addition, it led to the creation of the U.S. On‐Site Inspection Agency and other permanent arms control bodies since used to implement arms control treaties.
[See also Arms Control and Disarmament: Nuclear; Arms Control and Disarmament: Nonnuclear; Arms Race: Nuclear Arms Race; CFE Treaty; Cold War: External Course; SALT Treaties.]


Joseph P. Harahan , On‐Site Inspections Under the INF Treaty, 1993.
George L. Rueckert , Global Double Zero: The INF Treaty from Its Origins to Implementation, 1993.

George L. Rueckert