Defending Europe

December 24, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


For all the fanfare that accompanied the signing of the first U.S.-Soviet arms control agreement in eight years, the treaty to ban intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) has posed as many questions about the defense of Europe as it has resolved. By reducing the nuclear component of the superpowers' arsenals on the continent, the INF agreement has focused attention on conventional, or non-nuclear, forces. While all 15 U.S. allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) endorse the treaty, which was signed Dec. S in Washington, they a]so agree that the withdrawal of 2,800 “Euromissiles” and the prospect of deep cuts in the superpowers' strategic nuclear forces make adequate conventional strength more urgent than ever.

By nearly all accounts, the seven-nation Warsaw Pact enjoys a substantial numerical advantage over NATO in conventional forces. At the same time, budgetary constraints in the United States and in Europe will make it more difficult to correct that imbalance. For this reason, support is growing for a new set of negotiations aimed at reducing the level of conventional forces deployed in Europe by NATO and the East bloc. “We and the Soviet Union are pretty much agreed to start conventional stability talks sometime early next year,” says Matthew Murphy, a spokesman for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, which advises the president on arms control policy. Unlike the negotiations over nuclear weapons, which have been conducted between the superpowers alone, the conventional weapons talks will involve all 23 members of the two alliances. “We will consult with our NATO allies and be sure all are agreed on specific proposals to be presented to the Soviets,” Murphy says.

But there are obstacles to reaching such a consensus that make the official timetable uncertain. Some of the West European allies fear that the removal of U.S. medium-range nuclear weapons from their territory is the first phase of a reduction in America s defense commitment to Europe.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arms Control and Disarmament
Feb. 14, 2020  The New Arms Race
Dec. 13, 2013  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Mar. 2010  Dangerous War Debris
Oct. 02, 2009  Nuclear Disarmament Updated
Jan. 27, 1995  Non-Proliferation Treaty at 25
Dec. 24, 1987  Defending Europe
Feb. 22, 1985  Arms Control Negotiations
Jun. 08, 1979  Strategic Arms Debate
Apr. 09, 1969  Prospects for Arms Control
Mar. 15, 1961  New Approaches to Disarmament
Feb. 25, 1960  Struggle for Disarmament
Nov. 07, 1958  Arms Control: 1958
Jun. 11, 1957  Inspection for Disarmament
Jul. 11, 1955  Controlled Disarmament
Oct. 09, 1933  The Disarmament Conference, 1933
Jan. 05, 1932  World Disarmament Conference of 1932
Apr. 08, 1929  Efforts Toward Disarmament
Mar. 13, 1928  The League of Nations and Disarmament
Feb. 22, 1927  The United States and Disarmament
Alliances and Security Agreements
Arms Control and Disarmament
Regional Political Affairs: Europe