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Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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The United States and Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces INF Treaty in December 1987. Negotiations on this treaty were the result of a dual-track decision taken by NATO in 1979. At that time, in response to concerns about the Soviet Unions deployment of new intermediate-range nuclear missiles, NATO agreed both to accept deployment of new U.S. intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles and to support U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Soviet Union to limit these missiles. In the INF Treaty, the United States and Soviet Union agreed that they would ban all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The ban would apply to missiles with nuclear or conventional warheads, but would not apply to sea-based or air-delivered missiles.The U.S. State Department, in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions of its report Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, stated that the United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile GLCM with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles. In the 2016 report, it noted that the cruise missile developed by Russia meets the INF Treaty definition of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, and as such, all missiles of that type, and all launchers of the type used or tested to launch such a missile, are prohibited under the provisions of the INF Treaty. The compliance reports do not offer further details about the offending missile or the evidence that the United States used to make this determination.

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