The Intermediate-Range Missiles Treaty: 30 Years Later

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-9-5-15

A. Arbatov (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 


The weakest link in the present nuclear arms control system is the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), signed in 1987 by the U.S.A. and USSR, and inherited by Russia. Its abrogation by one or both sides can trigger a chain reaction of total disintegration of the global nuclear arms control regimes. In particular, Washington is accusing Moscow of testing ground-based cruise missile on Iskander launcher with a range of over 500 km, which is prohibited by the INF. Russia in return is accusing the United States of the planned deployment of Standard-3 Block IIA BMD interceptors in Rumania and Poland (during 2016 and 2018 respectively). These antimissiles are presently deployed on the U.S. surface ships in the universal Mark-41 tube-launchers which also house Tomahawk long-range sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). The unprecedented escalation of tensions between Russia and the West makes a compromise very difficult. Nonetheless, with sufficient good will on both sides it would be possible to reach diplomatic solutions. For example, in a supplement to the INF Treaty it could be agreed that Russia will have the right for short-notice on-site inspections of the BMD launchers in Rumania and Poland to make sure that they contain Standard-3 interceptors and not the Tomahawk cruise missiles (which look very differently to be sure). Obviously, the agreement of the two NATO states would be required, too. In response, Russia might take an obligation to accept the same type of inspections at the deployment areas of the Iskander launchers to verify that their missiles do not exceed 500 km range. 


The INF Treaty, the START Treaty, Ballistic missile defense (BMD), intermediate range missiles (IRM), cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, nuclear arms control, security, arms race 


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For citation:
Arbatov A. The Intermediate-Range Missiles Treaty: 30 Years Later. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2017, vol. 61, No 9, pp. 5-15.

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