Issue Brief #8: INF Treaty Compliance: Path to Renewal or the End of the Road?


The signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 marked the end of an eight-year stalemate in nuclear arms control due to the tension between leaders in Moscow and the West. This treaty eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons delivery vehicles in the arsenals of the world’s two largest nuclear weapons states. Nearly 2,700 ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 km and 5500 km were destroyed. The treaty also established various verification and monitoring measures, which provide precedents for provisions in the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) – the first arms control agreement to require reductions in strategic nuclear arms. The INF Treaty reached its 30th anniversary in December 2017 with both Washington and Moscow officially re-affirming their support for abiding by its terms. Yet if the compliance disputes raised in recent years are not soon resolved or at least managed, the INF Treaty is likely to fail, ultimately dragging other arms control regimes down with it.

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About the Authors

Oliver Meier is an Associate with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

Greg Thielmann is a Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association (ACA), Washington and served as State Department advisor to the U.S. INF delegation.

Victor Mizin is Senior Research Fellow with the Center of International Security at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations.