Download PDF Losing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty could lead to destabilising changes in American, Russian and European forces and doctrines.

If the disagreements between Russia and the United States over compliance with the 1987 Treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF Treaty) cannot be resolved, there is a risk that it will be abandoned. While the agreement is of indefinite duration, the parties to it have the right to withdraw if they decide that extraordinary events related to its subject matter jeopardise key national interests. The notice period prior to withdrawal is only six months, so the treaty could be lost very quickly.1

The INF Treaty obligated Russia (and certain other successor states to the Soviet Union in which missiles subject to the treaty were located) and the United States to eliminate their stockpiles of intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. The parties also pledged not to possess such systems in the future. The treaty’s definitions of intermediate-range nuclear forces meant the elimination of around 2,700 cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres by May 1991.2

The main responsibility for the future of the INF Treaty rests with Russia and the United States. However, the impact of losing the treaty would be felt more widely – not least in Europe, where the production and deployment of a new generation of ballistic and cruise missiles could (depending on type) bring almost all countries within range.

After 2013, the United States raised compliance concerns, alleging that Russia was violating its treaty obligation not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500–5,500km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles. Russia has made counter-allegations: that the US has violated the treaty by moving shipborne missile launchers capable of firing cruise missiles within the INF range parameters ashore, and by arming certain unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in ways that meet the INF definition of a cruise missile.

The purpose of this article is not to settle the question of whether the INF Treaty has been violated by either the United States or Russia. Instead, its aim is to address the question of how European security might be affected if the treaty were to disappear, and to explore the potential risks and opportunities that might exist in a post-INF Treaty environment. If Russia has indeed carried out research, testing, development and evaluation of at least one missile within INF parameters, it could be argued that we have already entered a post-INF Treaty era, in which the future of the treaty is still of interest to lawyers, but no longer considered a constraint by strategic analysts or force planners.3 Given that termination could happen very quickly, it is reasonable to assume that states are already adjusting to the prospect of the treaty’s cancellation.4

The evolution of missile forces

With the testing of longer-range missiles in the late 1980s, what could be called the Scud era of missile development transitioned into what could be called the Nodong era. As bottlenecks to technical progress are removed, more countries are likely to obtain more sophisticated systems. Another transition may be in progress, with the results of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing programmes in several countries suggesting the imminent emergence of new ICBM-armed powers.5

In the past, an active ballistic-missile development programme was a key indicator of a potential proliferation problem. Any link between missile proliferation and nuclear-weapon delivery would immediately elevate a regional concern into a global problem. For example, while the international community had a relatively relaxed attitude toward the Iranian and Iraqi ballistic-missile programmes during the Iran–Iraq ‘war of the cities’, a more concerted response was triggered when the extent of Iraq’s nuclear-weapons programme was uncovered, and when disturbing information about tendencies in the Iranian nuclear fuel cycle became available.

In the past, nuclear programmes and ballistic-missile programmes tended to go hand in hand, not just in terms of weapons development but also in terms of rollback decisions. For example, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Ukraine gave up their ambitions to build long-range missiles as they distanced themselves from nuclear weapons.

A similar correlation has been made between missile range and mission. Before the end of the Cold War there were many nuclear-armed short-range missiles. However, in the first decade after the end of the war, when large numbers of nuclear systems were retired, there was a tendency to see short-range missiles as having an important military function, while longer-range missiles were mainly seen as useful for deterrence purposes.

This correlation is perhaps changing as more states acquire modern guidance technologies and combine them with the industrial capacity to build rockets to higher manufacturing standards. Once long-range missiles are accurate and reliable enough to strike fixed installations with a high probability of success, a wide range of military targets and civilian critical infrastructure can be added to the target sets of conventionally armed missiles. As accurate, intermediate-range conventional missiles become viable military instruments and acquire deterrent effects, the associations between missiles of different kinds and either deterrence or war fighting become blurred.

While state (and even some non-state) actors have used short-range capabilities effectively in the past, the military impact of armed UAVs has been limited. In the future, however, ballistic and cruise missiles are likely to be accompanied by the growing use of armed UAVs as an additional complicating factor.

A tendency towards the more widespread use of modern, conventionally armed missiles in combat is already a notable feature of thinking in countries such as China, where the military establishment successfully pressed political decision-makers to prioritise investment in precise conventional systems. The results of that investment are starting to be seen in China’s force structure and weapons arsenal.

Without a meaningful way of determining which missiles qualify as weapons of mass destruction, controlling proliferation becomes more complicated. Persuading countries that have identified the need for accurate, conventionally armed missiles to give them up would be extremely difficult, particularly if they have come a long way in developing the relevant capabilities. Differentiating between conventional and nuclear, biological or chemical warheads on what otherwise appear to be identical missiles requires a methodology that does not yet exist – or at least, one that has not been made public and internationally agreed. Such a methodology would entail identifying markers that could establish whether a missile is conventionally armed, ensuring that missiles incorporated the relevant markers when produced, and designing an agreed system of verification.

Although missile programmes (and missile defences) have been discussed in terms of regional security dynamics, increases in missile ranges blur the boundaries of dyadic or regional security complexes. Moreover, conventionally armed forces possessing a variety of missile types, including those with longer ranges, have the potential to complicate the calculations of countries such as the United States and its most militarily powerful allies – countries that could otherwise operate with near impunity.

Domestic political pressures to respond to changing missile-threat assessments can also affect national calculations. For example, it would have been politically impossible for Iran to forgo a national missile programme after Iraq targeted Iranian cities with ballistic missiles. Likewise, advances in North Korea’s missile programme may cause publics in nearby countries to press their governments to respond in kind. The issue of missile proliferation, and how to respond to it, currently resonates strongly in US domestic politics.

When the INF Treaty was negotiated in the mid-1980s, prevention and non-proliferation were a high priority, and considered effective. In Europe, only France, the Soviet Union and the United States possessed intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and the relationship between them was becoming less adversarial and more cooperative.

Today, at a time when existing instruments have failed to block technical advances in the countries of greatest concern, it will become progressively harder to convince countries to rely on barriers to technology transfer (including export controls and border management) for their protection.

Consequences for force planning

The decision to design and develop a new generation of missiles that fall within the INF Treaty’s range parameters indicates that Russia sees a military requirement for such weapons. In the period before the treaty was negotiated, the overwhelming concern was with the threat posed by Soviet nuclear forces. However, while Russia may have military requirements that can be met by missiles within the treaty’s range parameters, it is not necessarily the case that a new generation of missiles would be nuclear-armed.

The increased effectiveness of the integrated air-defence system being developed by NATO creates a potential problem for manned combat aircraft that may either fail to reach their targets or suffer unacceptable levels of attrition in the process of conducting their missions. Longer-range, accurate missiles could substitute for manned aircraft in conducting some missions, or be used to degrade enemy air defences.

Douglas Barrie’s article in the August–September 2017 issue of Survival on the potential Russian motivations for developing new intermediate-range missiles pointed to two potential tasks that could be allocated to accurate, conventional weapons: targeting the missile-defence installations that form part of the evolving NATO ballistic-missile defence system, and disrupting or destroying critical infrastructure, for instance by targeting ports, railway junctions and airfields that play a key role in plans to reinforce NATO forces.6

Some Russian analysts have argued that Russia needs to deploy intermediate-range missiles to meet contingencies outside Europe. Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, has stated that ‘the Americans do not need such missiles; we need them very much, because on the Eurasian continent there are a number of countries that have such missiles that, as a rule, are aimed at us. So, it’s time to build medium and short range missiles. It’s just a new reality.’7

Naval weapon systems offer one potential solution to the problem of penetrating air defences. Ships are increasingly being configured as floating missile-launch platforms, with a focus on conventionally armed precision weapons linked in a networked system. Ships that were once seen as primarily useful for nuclear deterrence may become more important to combat operations, something that has been true for a considerable time in Western navies, but that is now being mirrored in other navies, notably China, India and Russia.

Surface warships would face many different threats in a high-intensity conflict, while submarines, which might be expected to survive for longer, have limited magazine capacity and are unlikely to be available in large numbers. Land-based missile systems may therefore be a preferred option for countries that do not want, or are not able, to carry the cost and manage the complexity of developing large, survivable naval forces. Moreover, extending the range and increasing the accuracy of conventionally armed land-based missiles can put enemy ships at sea at greater risk over a wider area.

While Russia appears to perceive a military requirement for land-based intermediate-range missiles, debate in the United States surrounding the potential demise of the INF Treaty has seemed more reactive. In February 2017, a group of US senators introduced a bill to provide for compliance enforcement regarding Russian violations of the INF Treaty. The bill asserted that ‘it is not in the national security interests of the United States to be legally prohibited from developing dual-capable ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, while Russia makes advances in developing and fielding this class of weapon systems’.8 The bill appropriated a small amount of money to be used to analyse possible responses to Russian INF Treaty violations.

Leaving aside any political signals from Congress, the United States is currently in the process of conducting a nuclear posture review and a ballistic-missile defence review. Announced in May 2017, the purpose of the latter is to produce a report for presentation to the president by the end of 2017.9 It is reasonable to assume that the contingency of operating without the INF Treaty is one part of the ongoing assessment.

New weapon types have been included in the plans of the US Navy and Air Force, while the US Army, as part of the all-services Prompt Global Strike development programme, has undertaken to develop a hypersonic vehicle that might be deployed on long-range missiles.10 Without the INF Treaty, the United States would be under no constraints in terms of exploring different combinations of weapon types and basing options, something that John Bolton, a former under-secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, has advanced as a reason to cancel the INF Treaty whether or not Russia is compliant.11

While there is no point in deploying intermediate-range missiles in the continental United States, the US would be free to develop equivalent countervailing capabilities, including those that could be deployed on the territory of other states on invitation, and to facilitate their transfer to allies.

A response need not be symmetrical

A response to the loss of the INF Treaty need not be symmetrical or ‘in kind’. The treaty does not constrain the United States from developing other types of counterforce capabilities designed to prevent attacks from intermediate-range missiles, or from developing active defences to counter ground-launched missile systems within the treaty’s range parameters that threaten US allies in Europe. However, with the INF Treaty in place, there is little incentive for Washington to take either course – something that may not be the case in Asia.

The options believed to be at the early stages of discussion at NATO include strengthening the active defence of potential target sets against conventional missile attacks; hardening critical infrastructure so that it is more difficult to disable or destroy; and deploying or increasing the rotation of capabilities (such as manned aircraft) that would be compliant with the INF Treaty.12

The deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe by the Soviet Union in the 1970s led to an extremely contentious debate within NATO over how best to respond.13 While the Allies eventually adopted a common position, solidarity was only achieved after sometimes acrimonious debate and against the backdrop of significant public unrest. It is hard to know how the Alliance would respond to the loss of the INF Treaty today.

There would be no barrier to bilateral agreements between the United States and individual European countries willing to host intermediate-range missiles outside the NATO framework. The original model for the deployment of theatre missile defences in Europe was through bilateral agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland, before the decision was taken to make the defence of NATO territory a core military task for the Alliance.

The possibility of making important decisions about force structure outside the NATO framework was recognised as a potential blow to Alliance solidarity – something that might also be said of a fragmented response to the loss of the INF Treaty. In November 2010, the decision to make missile defence an integral part of the Alliance’s overall defence posture was, according to the Lisbon Summit Declaration, ‘based on the principles of the indivisibility of Allied security and NATO solidarity, equitable sharing of risks and burdens, as well as reasonable challenge, taking into account the level of threat, affordability and technical feasibility, and in accordance with the latest common threat assessments agreed by the Alliance’.14

The cruise-missile challenge is more familiar

One important ingredient in promoting internal Alliance consensus on ballistic-missile defence was to reassure Russia that the evolving NATO missile-defence architecture was aimed at defending against limited attacks from emerging missile powers. In parallel with the decision to go ahead with the development of missile defences in the Alliance, the NATO–Russia Council (NRC) continued to discuss a joint ballistic-missile threat assessment, and was tasked with developing a comprehensive Joint Analysis of the future framework for missile-defence cooperation.15

A key element of the compromise among allies that opened the way for NATO to incorporate ballistic-missile defence into its core missile tasks was to ensure that the missile-defence architecture was of a scale and type that could not realistically challenge Russian capabilities. However, the deterioration in relations with Russia raises the question of whether the same logic would apply in present conditions. While the cost and technical difficulty of developing defences against a large and sophisticated arsenal of intermediate-range ballistic missiles may be insurmountable, meeting the challenge posed by fast, accurate and agile ground-launched intermediate-range cruise missiles is perhaps more familiar, given that Russia has been developing air- and sea-launched missiles of that kind.

Aside from short-term responses, it would probably take some time for a coherent, long-term European response to the loss of the INF Treaty to be developed. Helpfully, European cooperation in matters of security and defence has become more politically salient. Moreover, decisions taken at the highest political levels in 2016 included the active promotion of cooperation between the European Union and NATO in the context of a more strategic focus for EU military activity.

In the past, the development of the EU’s military profile was based on voluntary engagement in small-scale external missions in pursuit of what were often altruistic goals to enhance security in the global south. However, recent documents agreed among the EU heads of state and government point to a more sustained engagement in strengthening the Union’s ability to act as a security provider, including an expanded capacity to act autonomously in more complex and challenging missions, in some cases outside of Europe.16 The potential of the Union to strengthen European capabilities across a full spectrum of missions is also now part of the internal EU discussion. While the European Commission has been barred from using common funds for military projects, recent decisions open the way toward financing research and development if defence projects are European, rather than merely national, in character.

Not long ago, this kind of ambition on the part of the EU would have led to concerns about undermining the transatlantic solidarity that most EU member states still regard as the central pillar of their national defence. However, the recent EU decisions have been framed as part of a more integrated approach to security in partnership with NATO, and have been accompanied by a dedicated effort to overcome inter-institutional competition. EU documents acknowledge that NATO remains the foundation for the collective defence of those states that are members of it.

With the INF Treaty in place, it would be difficult for European states to contemplate the development of ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, even though the treaty imposes no legal constraint on such weapons.17 Without the INF Treaty, this option, which potentially carries certain advantages, could be freely discussed. The development of more sophisticated and longer-range air defences puts manned combat aircraft at greater risk, and European air forces have too few of these very expensive platforms – which cannot be replaced quickly – to suffer major attrition. The current generation of European combat aircraft, including the F-35, have a relatively short combat radius, and can only operate over long distances with air-to-air refuelling, which creates another vulnerability if tanker aircraft come within range of modern enemy air defences.

As European states contemplate a next generation of airpower, the idea of intermediate-range missiles as an alternative (or supplement) to manned combat aircraft might hold some appeal, and could become more feasible should the indirect constraints imposed by the INF Treaty be removed. If undertaken as a European project, with research and development supported by the common EU budget rather than resting on national expenditure, the benefits of intermediate-range missile development might be seen to outweigh any cost to the already deteriorating relationship with Russia. In areas where EU–NATO cooperation is being actively promoted, an intra-European project could promote cooperation in a way that underlines members’ shared responsibility to develop modest but effective defence capabilities.

There is no guarantee that the EU could reach internal consensus on the appropriate response to the loss of the INF Treaty. However, defence cooperation among subsets of member states has been flourishing, in some instances incorporating non-member states as well. The formation of cooperative arrangements in Europe outside the framework of the EU, but closely linked to ongoing Union discussions, would be a feasible formula, albeit one that would bar access to common funds. Alternatively, one or more transatlantic projects would be possible since, as noted above, without the INF Treaty there would be no constraint on US technology-sharing or participation in the joint development of intermediate-range missiles.

European planners should also take into account the actions of states that are not members of either the EU or NATO, including Ukraine. After 1991, the INF Treaty was multilateralised to include six successor states to the Soviet Union with inspectable INF facilities on their territory: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.18 In the absence of the treaty, there would be no legal constraint on Ukraine, which has a significant missile-design and -production capacity, should it decide to develop and produce intermediate-range missiles.

Apart from the development of new weapons and equipment, the responses to the loss of the INF Treaty would necessarily include assessment of the impact on current doctrine and plans for effective defence. In the absence of the treaty, the deployment of significant numbers of intermediate-range missiles might change accepted thinking about the appropriate balance between the various elements of effective defence. One issue that has been at the forefront of recent thinking is the appropriate balance between creating significant forces, stationed close to potentially vulnerable locations; establishing tripwire forces combined with the capacity for rapid reinforcement in a crisis; and enhancing the capability to concentrate firepower from multiple locations, taking advantage of the networked forces that have been created over the past two decades.

Large forward deployments would potentially be vulnerable to the nuclear forces of an adversary, while the rapid reinforcement of tripwire forces in a crisis could be disrupted by the extensive use of accurate, longer-range missile forces. Dispersed capabilities that could be brought together quickly to concentrate firepower at any location could appear more attractive. It is possible that the end of the INF Treaty could add an additional incentive to further develop networked approaches that link long-range weapon-delivery systems, though that tendency may well be strong in any event.

Consequences for arms-control prospects

It is hard to see how the current impasse over compliance with the INF Treaty can be resolved, or how Russia, which rejects allegations of any treaty violation, could come back into compliance in a way that would reassure the United States, its NATO Allies and other affected countries. The United States seems to have had compliance concerns regarding the INF Treaty since 2008, concerns that were deemed serious enough by 2013 to be raised with Russia. After January 2014, the United States began briefing its NATO Allies on its concerns and efforts to resolve them. The dialogue with Russia was initially conducted through senior officials meeting bilaterally. However, in 2016 the United States triggered the mechanism outlined in Article XIII of the INF Treaty to convene the Special Verification Commission.19 The commission met in November 2016, but made no progress on resolving the concerns of either side.20

Against this background, the trust deficit between the United States and Russia related to arms-control treaty obligations has become even larger. While there seems to be agreement that the implementation of strategic nuclear arms-control obligations is undertaken in good faith, serious compliance concerns have been raised in other processes, including in Europe regarding the implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and the Treaty on Open Skies.

Prevention and non-proliferation were seen as important and achievable

Overcoming a trust deficit is not an insurmountable obstacle to progress in arms control, but any such deficit would need to be reflected in the negotiating mandate and specific provisions of any agreement. For example, arms control that has the objective of reducing risks in conditions of coexistence will demand a higher verification standard than might be accepted in conditions of cooperative security.

When the INF Treaty was negotiated in the mid-1980s, prevention and non-proliferation were seen as important and achievable; few countries had the technical and industrial capacity to make intermediate-range missiles; and the relationship between the countries with the most advanced technical capacities was becoming more cooperative. Several different measures were combined to try to reduce the number of countries seeking to acquire longer-range missile systems. Political engagement with a diverse group of countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and South Africa, was combined with other instruments, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which developed a more coherent policy approach among technology suppliers and strengthened national export-control systems. This helped to create more effective barriers to unauthorised transfers of sensitive and dual-use items. Discussion among MTCR-participating states about an international code of conduct on ballistic-missile proliferation was the starting point for the development of what subsequently became the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), the only multilateral transparency and confidence-building instrument addressing the spread of ballistic missiles. The focus of the HCOC is on ballistic missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction.

In 1999, Russian president Boris Yeltsin outlined a proposal for the development of a Global Control System (GCS) that was intended to reduce the incentives for developing indigenous ballistic-missile programmes. Under the GCS proposal, states that considered themselves vulnerable would receive credible security guarantees and positive incentives for restraint through economic and technological cooperation. While the GCS added important new dimensions to the search for means of reducing proliferation risks, neither its security assurances nor its economic elements were ever developed in detail, and the initiative did not gain widespread international support.

In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed expanding on the concept of the INF Treaty to incorporate more countries into a legal regime banning ground-launched intermediate-range missiles. In 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, elaborated a national proposal to create the conditions for nuclear disarmament and used the French presidency of the EU to promote the idea of opening multilateral discussions on a treaty banning short- and intermediate-range surface-to-surface missiles. The proposal was incorporated as one element of an EU Disarmament Action Plan submitted to the United Nations. There have also been a range of country-specific initiatives to stymie weapons proliferation that have gained political traction, including the engagement of the United Nations Security Council.21

In short, there has been no lack of creative efforts to address the security risks associated with evolving missile forces over time. However, international and multilateral efforts have always had a lower status when compared to the dialogue between the US and Russia, and alternative processes have never been placed within an integrated international effort backed by sustained political engagement. When the United Nations created a Group of Governmental Experts to discuss the issue of missile-threat mitigation, the group never agreed on a clear mandate and did not add any value, despite several years of deliberations.

* * *

Given the severity and apparent intractability of the concerns surrounding compliance with the INF Treaty, a post-treaty era seems nigh. Although the treaty played an important role in bringing about dramatic improvement in the European military-security environment, it is not unreasonable to ask whether a 30-year-old instrument, created in circumstances that no longer exist, is still in tune with current needs. However, the potential consequences of abandoning the treaty would add a new level of uncertainty to a European security environment that is already moving, step by step, away from cooperative security towards a more confrontational paradigm. The consequences could be expected to include changes in US, Russian and European forces and doctrines. European security planning would have to take into account the potential impact of the treaty’s end on relations between the United States and Russia, as well as NATO and Russia. The manner in which the European Union and NATO dealt with these changes would be a significant factor in either promoting or diluting both intra-European security and defence cohesion, as well as transatlantic cohesion.

The loss of the INF Treaty would inevitably have an impact on other arms-control agreements and initiatives. The bilateral US–Russian arms-control process would perhaps be the most affected. However, arms control as it applies to Europe in general (including the prospects for conventional arms control) would have to take account of the new conditions. The potential deployment of ground-launched intermediate-range missiles in significant numbers would be a new element in assessments of whether restraint measures could be developed that were tailored to the current military needs of European countries. If the INF Treaty is no longer considered to be in the security interests of its parties, then the question of how best to address the wider tendencies in missile proliferation – both vertical and horizontal – must be seen in a new light.


1 ‘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’, Washington DC, 8 December 1987, Article XV.

2 Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, US Department of State, ‘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: Narrative’,

3 According to some US sources, Russia has already produced INF non-compliant cruise missiles in numbers that would exceed requirements for testing. See Amy F. Woolf, Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress (Washington DC: Congressional Research Service, 15 March 2017).

4 According to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, a preliminary ‘options paper’ was circulated at NATO in 2017 describing almost 40 potential actions in response to the loss of the INF Treaty. Georg Mascolo, ‘Einer der wichtigsten Abrüstungsverträge wackelt’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 September 2017,

5 In the past decade, Israel and India have developed the Jericho 3 and Agni 5 respectively, missiles with range parameters consistent with the normal definition of an ICBM. See ‘Missile of the World’, Missile Threat: CSIS Missile Defense Project, See also ‘France: North Korea Could Nuke US, Europe “Within Months”’, Agence France-Press, 1 September 2017,

6 Douglas Barrie, ‘Allegation, Counter-Allegation and the INF Treaty’, Survival, vol. 54, no. 4, August–September 2017, pp. 35–43.

7 Evgeny Buzhinsky and Alexander Khramchikhin, ‘Russia Will Not Lose from the Denunciation of the INF Treaty’, Valdai Club, 28 June 2017. The article refers to the progressive development of missile programmes to the south and east of Russia, in China, North Korea, India and Pakistan.

8 ‘S. 430: Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017’, 16 February 2017,

9 US Department of Defense, ‘Pentagon Announces Start of Ballistic Missile Defense Review’, 5 May 2017,

10 Amy F. Woolf, Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues (Washington DC: Congressional Research Service, 7 July 2017).

11 Woolf, Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, p. 31.

12 Mascolo, ‘Einer der wichtigsten Abrüstungsverträge wackelt’.

13 See Thomas E. Halverson, The Last Great Nuclear Debate: NATO and Short-Range Nuclear Weapons in the 1980s (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1995).

14 NATO, ‘Lisbon Summit Declaration’, 20 November 2010,

15 ‘NATO–Russia Council Joint Statement’, 20 November 2010,

16 In November 2016, the foreign and defence ministers of the EU endorsed the view that European security and defence efforts should enable the EU to act autonomously, while also contributing to and undertaking actions in cooperation with NATO. See Council of the European Union, ‘Council Conclusions on the Global Strategy on the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, document CFSP/PESC 814, 17 October 2016.

17 France announced its intention to eliminate all its nuclear-armed surface-to-surface missiles, including 18 S3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, in 1991. The S3 missiles were deactivated in 1996 and dismantled by 1998.

18 Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, ‘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: Narrative’.

19 In Article XIII of the INF Treaty, the United States and Russia agree that, ‘if either Party so requests, they shall meet within the framework of the Special Verification Commission to (a) resolve questions relating to compliance with the obligations assumed; and (b) agree upon such measures as may be necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of this Treaty’.

20 US Department of State, ‘Media Note: Thirtieth Session of the Special Verification Commission under 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 (INF Treaty)’, 16 November 2016.

21 For example, since 2006 the United Nations Security Council has adopted multiple resolutions intended to bring about the suspension of all activities related to the ballistic-missile programme of North Korea, while Annex B to UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic-missile technology, for an eight-year period.

Ian Anthony is European Security Programme Director at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

December 2017–January 2018

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