Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Factsheet INF Treaty: At a Glance

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
December 8, 2017

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, also known as the INF Treaty, required the destruction of U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles (“GLBMs” and “GLCMs”) with a range capability between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and their associated launchers, support structures, and equipment, within three years after the Treaty entered into force in 1988. At the time it was signed, the Treaty’s verification regime was the most detailed and stringent in the history of nuclear arms control. The INF Treaty was designed to eliminate all INF Treaty-prohibited systems in a short time span, and to ensure compliance with the total ban on the possession, production, and flight-testing of such systems. GLBMs and GLCMs were acknowledged to be destabilizing to Cold War European and Asian stability, and had the potential to precipitate and/or escalate a nuclear war between the East and West. The INF Treaty is of unlimited duration.

In 2014, the United States declared the Russian Federation to be in violation of its INF Treaty obligations not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile for development of the SSC-8 missile system, which the United States assesses corresponds to be designated by the Russian Federation as the 9M729. The United States is currently pursuing a strategy to induce the Russian Federation to return to compliance with its obligations (Hyperlink: See Integrated Strategy fact sheet). Nevertheless, the United States remains committed to upholding its obligations under the INF Treaty. The United States continues to value the Treaty as a pillar of international security and stability, not only between the United States and Russia, but also to our allies and partners around the world.

Details of the Verification Regime:

The Treaty provided for the elimination of Soviet SS-12s, SS-23s, SS-20s, SS-4s, and SS-5s, as well as U.S. Gryphon GLCMs and Pershing-IIs. The numbers and characteristics of each party’s stockpiles of these weapons were declared through an exchange of data, which was later confirmed through on-site inspections during the three-year elimination period, and for 10 years thereafter. The Treaty provided for various types of inspections, including baseline inspections to confirm the initial declared data, closeout inspections of facilities and missile operation bases at which INF Treaty-related activity had ceased, short-notice inspections of declared and formerly declared facilities, and inspections to confirm the elimination of INF Treaty systems in accordance with the Treaty’s procedures. Additionally, for up to 13 years after the Treaty’s entry into force, the United States and Soviet Union each had the right to continuous on-site monitoring of access (“portals”) to any facility manufacturing a GLBM that was not covered under the INF Treaty and that had a stage outwardly similar to a stage of a Treaty-prohibited GLBM. The provisions of the INF Treaty did not distinguish between conventional and nuclear-capable missiles; all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile systems in the Treaty-specified range band, irrespective of warhead, were captured by the Treaty.

Key Milestones:

The United States eliminated its last GLCM and GLBM covered under the INF Treaty in late April and early May 1991. The Soviet Union eliminated its last declared SS-20 GLBM in May 1991. A total of 2,692 missiles were eliminated.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the United States sought to secure continued implementation of the INF Treaty by multilateralizing its obligations to include the six former Soviet Republics—Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan—with INF Treaty-inspectable facilities on their territories. The United States accomplished this by establishing agreements with these governments to address the need for new, bilateral processes to conduct U.S. inspections on the territory of each successor state. Of these six, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, remained active participants in the process of implementing the INF Treaty, including by continuing participation in the Treaty’s Special Verification Commission.

The Treaty’s on-site inspection and monitoring provisions expired 13 years following entry-into-force. In December 2000, the parties agreed on procedures to terminate inspection and monitoring activities starting on May 31, 2001.

Special Verification Commission:

The Special Verification Commission, or SVC, was established by the Treaty as a forum for discussing and resolving implementation and compliance issues, and for considering and agreeing to additional measures to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty. The Treaty parties resolved many issues within the SVC, using the forum to exchange interpretive views on inspection and elimination procedures, raise concerns relating to Treaty compliance, and address the effect that the massive geopolitical changes brought about by the fall of the Soviet Union had on the implementation of the agreement.

In November 2016, the United States convened the first Special Verification Commission session in 13 years, to seek a resolution to the Russian Federation’s noncompliance with the Treaty. The SVC was attended by delegations from the United States, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine.