Nitze on INF Terminology

"Behind the eventual name of the talks--the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, or INF negotiations--there is an interesting story. Shortly before being designated as chief INF negotiator, I flew to Europe for preliminary consultations with our allies. At that time nearly everyone in the press and in the United States government was referring to the upcoming talks as either the 'Euromissile talks' or the 'theater nuclear forces negotiations.' During my trip it became clear that our allies disliked this terminology. They thought the phrase "theater nuclear weapons" gave the wrong impression in that it suggested a disassociation of a nuclear war in Europe from one involving an exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. What the allies wanted was a coupling of the relatively weak deterrent in Europe to the stronger U.S. intercontinental deterrent. I thought they had a valid point with respect to the name to be given the negotiations and raised the issue at one of our subsequent delegation meetings in Washington. After we had examined the problem from a variety of perspectives, I finally proposed that we call the talks the 'intermediate-range nuclear force' negotiations instead of 'theater nuclear force' negotiations to establish the concept that the weapons we were to deal with were determined by their range, not by their geographic place of deployment. That was consistent with the line we had taken in SALT, and it seemed to me equally proper in connection with these negotiations."

Source: Paul Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost, p. 369.

    The American BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) was the second intermediate-range missile to be authorized for deployment in Europe by the NATO ministers in December 1979. Developed and fielded by the U.S. Air Force, this cruise missile relied on revolutionary turbofan-jet technology to propel it over a 2,500 kilometer range in a low flight trajectory that avoided radar detection. The missile was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The basic combat unit, called a flight, consisted of 16 cruise missiles loaded on four transporter-erector-launchers, with two mobile launch control centers. Flights were grouped into combat wings. The entire missile wing was mobile.6 Between 1983 and 1987, the Air Force deployed these cruise missiles on bases in five NATO nations: Great Britain, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. The United States, acting in concert with its NATO allies, had deployed 309 GLCMs by the time of the INF Treaty in l987.7


Shevardnadze on Verification

"Throughout the postwar history, the question of verification occupied a central place in Soviet-American relations... One of the main achievements of recent years was the universal recognition of the idea of verification, whereby confidence-building measures and the possibility of monitoring are organically combined as an unconditional norm of political reliability... In recent years great strides have been made in understanding that openness is the principal factor in any sort of progress--intellectual, material, or social. Security, long an arena for a two-sided game of hide-and-seek, has not been overlooked in this process. A historical threshold was crossed when all the European governments accepted the principle of on-site inspection at the Stockholm talks.

Now this principle is being applied in practice through monitoring the destruction of nuclear missiles and other confidence building measures. So far, not a single complaint has been heard that the inspections and verification have compromised anyone's security. The success and usefulness of verification are so certain that its application has markedly increased. If we intend to continue on this path we have taken thus far--reducing troops and weapons, dismantling the enormous structures of military antagonism...then we need an even more effective, versatile, and reliable system of verification."

Source: Eduard Shevardnadze, The Future Belongs to Freedom, pp. 89-91

The second part of NATO's dual track strategy concerned initiating diplomatic negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The NATO ministers acted in mid-December 1979. However, two weeks later the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. This development, which hardened U.S.-Soviet relations for several years, halted all treaty negotiations. Not until October 1981 did negotiations resume on reducing European ground-based intermediate nuclear weapons. After President Reagan assumed office in January 1981, the United States put forth in November 1981 a new negotiating position, the "zero option": no U.S. tactical nuclear missiles would be deployed in Europe in exchange for the Soviet Union's eliminating its deployed INF missiles, including the modern SS-20s and the older SS-4s and SS-5s.8

Announced publicly on November 18, President Reagan's zero option proposal was countered a week later by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev's public announcement calling for a bilateral freeze on INF missile deployments in Europe. The ultimate goal, Brezhnev declared, would be the elimination of all nuclear weapons from Europe. Because the Soviet Union's and the Warsaw Pact nations' conventional military forces far outnumbered NATO's conventional forces, the idea of no nuclear weapon systems defending Western Europe was unacceptable to NATO leaders. On the other hand, the idea that the Soviet Union might accept the zero option proposal was unacceptable to Soviet military and political leaders. Given these public positions, the INF negotiations stalled for several years.9



    Two developments revived treaty negotiations. First, in late 1983 and throughout 1984 American Pershing II and GLCM operational units began deploying to Western Europe. With these deployments (which were carried out over considerable public opposition in West Germany and Great Britain), NATO's theater nuclear forces added a significant new military force. Highly accurate, constantly ready, and operationally mobile, the Pershing II and GLCM missile systems set the stage for renewed treaty negotiations. The second development was Mikhail Gorbachev's selection in March 1985 as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev reversed or altered many of the Soviet Union's negotiating positions on the INF Treaty.10

The ins and outs of treaty negotiations over the next two years were extremely complex. The INF Treaty played a prominent role in the Reagan-Gorbachev Geneva Summit of November 1985 and the Reykjavik Summit in October 1986. At these summits and other meetings, Gorbachev agreed that any INF Treaty would be bilateral and that the final objective was zero missiles. At Reykjavik, Gorbachev offered to expand the INF Treaty to include shorter-range as well as intermediate-range ground-based missile systems. This was Gorbachev's "double-zero" offer, proposing a freeze in Soviet shorter-range missile deployments in exchange for a commitment from the United States and West Germany to eliminate all their shorter-range missiles (Pershing IAs). President Reagan rejected this offer because it was linked to a halt in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Six months after the Reykjavik Summit, Gorbachev influenced the INF Treaty negotiations once again, offering to eliminate, not freeze, the Soviet Union's European-based shorter-range nuclear missile systems (SS-23s and SS-12s). The Soviet leader dropped his demand for eliminating the SDI program, but he insisted that the United States and West Germany must destroy the Pershing IA missiles.11

On April 23, 1987, Soviet negotiators in Geneva placed a draft INF Treaty on the table incorporating these provisions as well as a verification regime that included on-site inspections. Three months later, in July, Gorbachev offered to eliminate all of the Soviet Union's Asian-based shorter-range missiles in exchange for West Germany's pledge to eliminate its Pershing IAs after the elimination of the U.S.-Soviet INF missiles. In August, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl agreed.12 In September, American and Soviet negotiators in Geneva began working out the last details of the treaty text and protocols. One aspect of the completed treaty was a requirement for both parties to use the recently established U.S. and Soviet Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers for communicating the mandatory treaty notifications and biannual data exchanges.


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