Arms Control Association Calls on Russia to Uphold Its INF Treaty Commitments

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2014

Media Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director,202-463-8270 x107; Tom Collina, Research Director, 202-463-8270 x104

(Washington, D.C.) -- According to press reports, the United States has determined that Russia has violated provisions of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that prohibit flight tests of ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles. The findings come in an annual report mandated by Congress on compliance with arms control agreements.

"The Obama administration is taking the right course of action in calling out Russia for this technical violation of the INF Treaty and by pressing the Kremlin to come back into compliance with this important agreement," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association.

"Throughout the Cold War years and beyond, the United States and Russia have overcome ideological differences to reach legally binding, verifiable agreements to control and reduce their massive nuclear weapon stockpiles, including the INF Treaty, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and the 2010 New START," Kimball noted.

"To preserve past gains and achieve further progress, Russia must continue to meet its nuclear arms control treaty commitments," he said. 

"We call on Russia to immediately halt all activities that are inconsistent with the INF Treaty, verifiably dismantle any missiles that have been tested in violation of the treaty--along with their launch canisters and launchers--respond to formal requests for clarification, and announce that it will uphold all aspects of the INF Treaty in the future," said Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association senior fellow and a former State Department official who participated in the INF negotiations.

"Despite Russia's technical violation of the INF Treaty, there is no reason for the United States to alter its ongoing implementation of the treaty, which has served U.S. national security interests well for over 25 years. The United States has no military need to deploy ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of traveling 500 to 5,500 kilometers, which are banned by the treaty. U.S. withdrawal would only give Russia an excuse to do the same, allowing Moscow to produce and deploy INF missiles," Thielmann warned.

The INF Treaty was signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. It required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification. 

As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short, medium, and intermediate-range nuclear-armed missiles by the treaty's implementation deadline of June 1, 1991. Today, neither Washington nor Moscow deploys such systems. The treaty is of unlimited duration.

Under the treaty, the United States committed to eliminate its Pershing IA, Pershing IB, Pershing II, and BGM-109G missiles. The Soviet Union had to destroy its SS-20, SS-4, SS-5, SSC-X-4, SS-12, and SS-23 missiles. In addition, both parties were obliged to destroy all INF-related training missiles, rocket stages, launch canisters, and launchers. Most missiles were eliminated either by exploding them while they were unarmed and burning their stages or by cutting the missiles in half and severing their wings and tail sections.

The treaty ban applies to ground-based missiles only, not sea-based missiles. According to  Article VII, a cruise missile can be developed for sea-based use if it is test-launched "from a fixed land-based launcher which is used solely for test purposes and which is distinguishable from" operational ground-based cruise missile launchers.

"Russia's violation of the INF Treaty follows a disturbing pattern of recent Russian intransigence on further nuclear arms reductions and disregard for key nonproliferation commitments," noted Tom Collina, Arms Control Association research director.

Since New START's entry into force in 2011, Russia has resisted follow-on arms reduction talks with the United States. President Vladimir Putin has so far rebuffed U.S. President Barack Obama's June 2013 proposal to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear strategic stockpiles by one-third below the ceilings set by New START. Russia's military intervention in Crimea violates its 1994 Budapest Memorandum commitment to respect the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine after it agreed to denuclearize in 1994 and join the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a nonnuclear weapon state.

"It would be highly counterproductive for Congress to interfere with U.S. treaty implementation, as the House is seeking to do in its FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which would prevent implementation of New START," Collina said.

"Until such time as the political conditions are conducive to further nuclear arms reductions, the existing U.S.-Russian arms control instruments still serve as an anchor of stability and predictability--and Russia must do its part by complying with all existing commitments," Collina urged.

"The Cold War is long over, but the United States and Russia continue to deploy nuclear stockpiles that, by any reasonable measure, far exceed their nuclear deterrence requirements. It is clear that the United States and Russia need more arms control, not less," Kimball said.


The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.