Slovakia destroyed the last parts of its six remaining Soviet-era SS-23 intermediate-range ballistic missiles on October 27. The dismantling of the technologically obsolete missiles, which was begun in May, has been a long-standing U.S. policy objective and received U.S. funding. (See ACT, June 2000.)
The SS-23 "Spider" missile was banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, which eliminated all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Slovakia acquired the 400-500 kilometer range SS-23s following the 1993 dissolution of Czechoslovakia, which had acquired the missiles from the Soviet Union. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, which also received the missiles from the Soviet Union, all disposed of their SS-23 systems years ago. The Slovak missiles reached the end of their service lives in 1998, but financial constraints prevented their destruction at that time.
Presiding over the final destruction of the missiles in Slovakia, John Holum, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said that Slovakia had made "a huge contribution toward realizing the goals of the INF Treaty and to improving European security."