At the opening of the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, one of two INF Treaty communications centers, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze were joined by U.S. Senators John Warner and Sam Nunn.


The INF Treaty, with its new provisions for scheduled missile eliminations and on-site inspections, placed both the United States and the Soviet Union squarely into an active arms reduction process. That process included the mandatory use of new U.S. and Soviet Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRCs) for communicating all official treaty data and notifications. It also included, in specific treaty language, the right of both nations to use national technical means (NTM) of verification. Further, the treaty required the two parties to establish a Special Verification Commission (SVC) to resolve questions relating to compliance and to agree on measures that could improve the "viability and effectiveness" of the treaty.

These three components--NRRCs, NTM, and SVC--had specific functions in the process of carrying out and monitoring the treaty. The missile systems, themselves, were owned by the respective military services. These services--the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force--operated the intermediate-and shorter-range missiles. They were responsible, on orders from their national command centers, for decommissioning, transporting, and eliminating the INF missiles. In all, nearly 2,700 missiles, including some of the most modern, accurate missile systems of the Soviet Union and the United States, would be eliminated. It was the destruction of these weapons, along with the unprecedented on-site inspection and cooperative measures rights, that gave the INF Treaty its historic significance.


    The Soviet SS-20 Threat and NATO's Dual Track Response

The Soviet SS-20 intermediate-range missile system had a solid-rocket motor, inertial guidance, and a warhead capable of carrying three nuclear weapons. By 1987 the USSR had deployed 654 SS-20 missiles.
  Between 1977 and 1987, the Soviet Union deployed 654 SS-20 missiles and 509 launchers in 48 Strategic Rocket Forces regiments.1 The SS-20 was a modern intermediate-range missile, with a solid-rocket motor, inertial guidance, and three independently targeted reentry vehicles. The missile had the capability of delivering three nuclear weapons of up to 250 kilotons each. It was also mobile. Mounted on a large, 12-wheeled truck that functioned as a missile transporter, erector, and launcher, the SS-20 missiles operated away from fixed missile bases. In comparison with older Soviet SS-4 and SS-5 missile systems, the SS-20s had much greater mobility, higher readiness, and significantly increased firepower. Late in 1977, the Soviet Union began deploying SS-20 regiments in the western republics; later, on missile operating bases throughout the USSR. Because these were intermediate (less than 5,500 kilometers) and not strategic missiles, the SS-20 deployments threatened to change the nuclear balance of power in Europe.2


West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt led NATO leaders in examining the new threat throughout 1978 and 1979. Their assessment concluded that the SS-20's mobility, multiple warheads, readiness, and accuracy (estimated 300 meters at 5,000 kilometers), when coupled with the Soviets' simultaneous deployment of new Backfire bombers, was cause for a fundamental reexamination of the NATO alliance. As a direct result, NATO's foreign and defense ministers in late 1979 adopted a "dual track" strategy of modernizing the existing European-based, ground-launched tactical nuclear missile systems while simultaneously pursuing arms control treaties to reduce the SS-20 threat. Throughout Western Europe in the 1980s this strategy became one of the most divisive public issues in the 40-year history of the alliance.3 Huge crowds demonstrated against deploying the American missiles. NATO nations remained resolute.

The first element of NATO's new strategy proposed stationing 677 American Pershing II and BGM-l09Gs in Western Europe. The Pershing II was a modern, highly accurate, ground-based intermediate-range ballistic missile with a maximum range of 1,800 kilometers. Developed and tested by the U.S. Army in the late 1970s, it had a two-stage solid-fuel rocket motor, both an inertial guidance and a terminal guidance radar system, and a single reentry vehicle. The Pershing II was mobile; it was carried on and fired from a missile erector launcher towed by a large tractor truck. The Pershing II succeeded the Pershing I and IA missiles, two earlier tactical missile systems that had been based with U.S. Army forces in West Germany.4 The NATO ministers approved replacing the three U.S. Army battalions of 108 Pershing IA missiles with an equal number of Pershing II battalions and missiles. Full-scale development began in 1979, with the first battery achieving operational status in Europe in December 1983. When the INF Treaty was signed in December 1987, the U.S. Army had 120 Pershing II missiles and 108 launchers in operational battalions in West Germany.5

The U.S. Air Force developed and fielded the Ground-Launched Cruise-Missile (GLCM) in the 1980s. Based in Western Europe, the deployment of these intermediate range American missiles created a major crisis in the NATO alliance.

GLCM launch.


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