U.S Department Of State
November 19, 2018
What is the INF Treaty?
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. The INF Treaty is of unlimited duration.
On October 20, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would exit the INF Treaty in response to Russia’s longstanding violation of its obligations under the Treaty.
How is Russia Violating the INF Treaty?
In 2014, the United States first declared Russia in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to produce, possess, or flight-test a GLCM with a range capability between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States subsequently identified Russia’s violating weapon as the SSC-8 missile system. The Russian designator for this system is 9M729. The United States reaffirmed that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The violating missile is distinct from the R-500/SSC-7 GLCM and the RS-26 ICBM, and is developed by Novator Design Bureau and Titan Central Design Bureau. Russia has attempted to conceal the nature of the SSC-8 program by obfuscating and lying about the missile’s test history.
How has the United States tried to address Russia’s violation?
Since first informing Russia of U.S. concerns about Russia’s INF Treaty compliance in 2013, the United States worked to induce Russia to return to compliance with its obligations. The United States has raised the issue of Russia’s INF violation on countless occasions, including with Russian officials at the highest levels of government. The United States has provided detailed information to the Russian Federation over the course of its bilateral and multilateral engagements, including more than enough technical information about the SSC-8 missile for the Russian side to engage substantively on the issue of its obligations under the INF Treaty.
In 2017, the Trump Administration redoubled U.S. efforts to bring Russia back into compliance with an integrated strategy of diplomatic, economic, and military measures. Highlights since 2013 include:
Over 30 engagements with Russian officials at senior levels.
5 expert-level meetings to discuss Russia’s violation. This included 2 sessions of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), the Treaty’s implementation body, and
3 bilateral meetings of technical experts. The United States initiated all of these meetings, while Russia called none.
2 Russian entities involved in the violation were added to the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List.
Secured from Congress to start Treaty-compliant research and development on conventional, ground-launched, intermediate-range systems to show Russia the cost of endangering the INF Treaty.
2 formal statements from NATO demanding that Russia be transparent about its violation.
5 annual compliance reports reflecting the U.S. finding of Russia’s noncompliance with the Treaty.