First American Inspections

The first American inspectors under the INF Treaty began their flight to the Mosow point of entry from Frankfurt, West Germany. General Lajoie, with the members of the first teams standing on the runway, speaks to the press. July 1,1988.
  On July 1, 1988, exactly 30 days after Reagan and Gorbachev had exchanged the instruments of ratification, American and Soviet inspection teams boarded aircraft and flew to designated points of entry to begin the INF Treaty's first baseline inspections. The treaty specified that each nation could have only 200 INF inspectors on an approved list at any one time. Two other lists contained the names of 200 INF portal monitoring inspectors and 200 aircrew members. These lists had to be exchanged "no later than one day after entry into force of the Treaty."6

The treaty further specified that each inspection team could have no more than 10 members. To carry out the U.S. baseline inspections, OSIA had selected, organized, and trained 20 inspection teams. In late June, eight of these teams flew from Washington to the agency's gateway field office in Frankfurt, while another four teams went to Yokota Air Base, the site of the agency's gateway field office in Japan.7 The remaining teams would be deployed later during the 60-day baseline period.

General Lajoie was a member of the first American team to conduct an INF on-site inspection in the Soviet Union.8 Led by Lt. Colonel Lawrence G. Kelley, USMC, the team consisted of the team chief, deputy, linguists, missile operations specialists, and other specialists skilled in specific areas of operations. In the weeks leading up to the initial baseline inspections, General Lajoie remembers speaking to team chiefs, field office escort officers, linguists, noncommissioned officers, team members, and headquarters staff. "I gave a lot of briefings and I tried to establish a tone, [but] I had trouble finding the words." He stressed that American inspectors and escorts had to be professional and businesslike. "They represented the U.S. government; I wanted them to be polite, but I wanted them to be firm and follow their plan."9 Lajoie emphasized that the on-site inspection mission was not a clash between two conflicting world systems; rather, it was a limited, specific job, carefully defined within a single treaty.


Colonel Kelley's team flew from Frankfurt to Moscow on July 1, 1988.10 They followed the procedures outlined in the treaty's Protocol on Inspections. Sixteen hours before the team's anticipated arrival at the point of entry (Moscow), the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center in Washington sent a message to the Soviet NRRC, giving the date and time of the team's arrival, names of team members and aircrew, and the date and time when the team chief would specify which INF site would be inspected. Colonel Kelley's team arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on the morning of July 1.

They were met by a Soviet INF Treaty escort team. Also present at the team's arrival were OSIA officials attached to the American embassy in Moscow. Their function was to serve as a diplomatic aircrew escort. For the inspection team, the treaty's inspection protocol stipulated that the movement of inspectors and aircrews "shall be at the discretion" of the in-country escorts.11 This meant that Kelley's team and all subsequent American inspection teams would be escorted continuously while they were in the Soviet Union. Passage through customs, transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, and the on-site inspection itself would be done under Soviet escort.

American inspectors began their inspection by counting and examining the missiles to see if they matched the number and type specified in the NRRC notification. This inspection was of SS-23 missiles at Saryozek, USSR.


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