Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty on December 8, 1987.


On January 15, 1988, President Ronald Reagan directed the Secretary of Defense to establish the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA). Its mission was to carry out the on-site inspection and escort responsibilities of the United States under the provisions of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.1 Signed on December 8, 1987, by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the INF Treaty enjoined the two countries to eliminate all ground-launched missiles (approximately 2,700 missiles) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. National teams of inspectors would monitor and report on the elimination of these missile systems and other significant provisions of the treaty. The INF Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate and the USSR's Supreme Soviet in the spring of 1988, and the instruments of ratification were exchanged at the Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit of June 1, 1988. Exactly 30 days later the first phase of the treaty began. On-site inspections were a major component of this and all subsequent phases of the treaty. They had immediate significance, both as a barometer for measuring adherence to the treaty and as a precedent for entering into future arms control treaties and agreements.    


  In negotiating arms control treaties with the Soviet Union, the United States had proposed on-site inspections as a part of treaty verification for more than 30 years.2 However, until the late 1980s few treaties or agreements had included the provision. One, the Stockholm Document of September 1986, was a multilateral arms control agreement signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, and 33 European nations. It went into effect on January 1, 1987, and permitted on-site challenge inspections by small, four-person teams of military officers of large-scale, scheduled military exercises. If a military force of more than 17,000 took part in an exercise, the participating states had to provide notification 42 days in advance and issue an invitation to all of the signatories to send an on-site inspection team to observe the exercise. There was no right of refusal. However, the agreement limited nations that were not members of the same alliance (i.e., NATO or the Warsaw Pact) to a single challenge inspection each per year. This provision limited the number of inspections. In 1987, the first full year of the Stockholm Document, there were only five on-site challenge inspections. The United States conducted a single on-site inspection under the agreement in l987.3

U.S. inspectors during an SS-12 inspection at Saryozek, USSR, April 1989.


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