The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union that eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic missiles and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. It was signed on December 8, 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, and entered into force on June 1, 1988.
"In the end, [President Reagan] was the first President in history to sign a nuclear reductions treaty, the INF treaty (Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty)..." - listen
Reverend Bob Moore, Executive Director, Coalition for Peace Action
On January 15, 1988, President Reagan ordered Frank Carlucci, his Secretary of Defense, to establish the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA) to execute the INF's unprecedented inspection and escort responsibilities. 30 days after the entry-into-force of the treaty on June 1, 1988, OSIA commenced inspections of 130 intermediate-range nuclear force sites in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union. Soviet teams inspected 31 INF sites in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Teams from both nations escorted the foreign inspection teams during the verification process.
All intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, launchers, and support equipment were eliminated by May 1991. From 1988 to the end of inspection activity in June 2001, both sides conducted hundreds of INF inspections.
In 1975, the Soviet Union deployed the SS-20 missile, a new long-range, high-accuracy, powerful offensive weapon. In response, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) formulated a two-part strategy. First, NATO would engage in arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union to reduce both their arsenals. Second, NATO would deploy 464 ground-based cruise missile launchers and 108 Pershing II ballistic missiles throughout Europe.
When formal negotiations began, the US gave a "zero-zero offer" to completely reliminate all Pershing, SS-20 and other significant INF weapons. After some disagreement over whether British and French delivery systems should be exempted, the Soviet Union suspended talks in November 1983. A year later the US began to deploy INF systems in West Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
In March 1985 talks resumed between the two nations. Strategic weapons and nuclear testing in space was also discussed. In 1986 the Soviet Union proposed a total ban of nuclear weapons by 2000. The US rejected the proposal and suggested a phased reduction of INF delivery systems in Europe and Asia, with the goal of having no systems remaining by 1989.
Reagan and Gorbachev met several times in August and September 1986. The meetings culminated in a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, on October 11, 1986. Surprisingly, both leaders agreed to removing INF systems from Europe and equal aggregate limits of 100 INF missile warheads
Detailed negotiations over the text of the treaty throughout 1987 lead to a final text in September 1987. On December 8, 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev signed 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, or Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty for short.
To view the full text of the treaty, click here.