There is a high probability that 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) will be terminated within the next 12 months. European countries need to assess the consequences for their national and regional security as well as the impact on wider international security.
The INF Treaty was rightly considered a milestone in arms control because it delivered military and political benefits and because it represented a major advance in arms control verification. However, these benefits are not being delivered today. Russia has maintained for many years that the INF Treaty has outlived its usefulness, but also signalled that it would be open to discuss an alternative framework more in keeping with current realities. It has also been in violation of the treaty for several years, and the evidence of that is conclusive.
In the current political conditions an alternative framework to the INF Treaty might not be impossible. However, this paper argues that it would be worth exploring an alternative framework based on four elements:
- Removing legal barriers to acquisition of conventionally armed missiles with intermediate range.
- Extending the ban on nuclear-armed missiles to include sea-launched cruise missiles.
- Opening a discussion of nuclear-armed ground- and sea-launched missiles with intermediate range among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
- Opening a wider dialogue with countries in Europe and Asia about the implications for their security of modifiying the regulatory framework for missiles with intermediate range.