Chapter 11- Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Deployments and "Zero Option" vs. "Nuclear Freeze"

[Tactical Nuclear Forces] The tactical nuclear forces of the USSR have undergone extensive changes over the past decade. Key among these developments have been:

  • A one-third increase in the number of surface-to-surface missile launchers.
  • A threefold increase in the number of aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
  • The introduction of nuclear-capable artillery in the western USSR.
  • Increases in warhead yields of some older surface-to-surface missiles.
  • Major qualitative advances in the newer land-based missile and aircraft delivery systems.
  • The capability of the Soviet Navy to deliver a wide variety of nuclear weapon systems from ships, submarines, or naval aircraft.                                              

Soviet-controlled tactical nuclear weapons are located in Eastern Europe. . . . Numerically, the most important. . . in Eastern Europe are the Pact's tactical aircraft. About 1,300 fighters, fighter-bombers, and tactical bombers. . . . There are about 1,200 tactical nuclear missile launchers opposite NATO . . . chiefly of the FROG and Scud systems. . . .

The strategic component of the Pact’s theater nuclear forces available for a war against NATO consists chiefly of bombers, medium- and intermediate-range land-based missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. In addition, the Soviets could employ a portion of their inter-continental ballistic missile force against European targets. (bracketed headings added)3

Other NIE sections include those titled “Soviet Doctrine for Theater Warfare in Europe,” “Trends in Pact Forces and Capabilities,” and “How the Pact Would go to War,” that together review the Soviet attack doctrines and Soviet war capabilities congruent with this doctrine.

NIE–4–78—July 1981. While NIE 14–81–31 focused on Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces confronting the Western democracies across the Iron Curtain, another NIE, also issued on July 7, 1981, NIE 11–4–78—Soviet Goals and Expectations in the Global Arena, addressed Soviet geopolitical objectives throughout the globe. Its “Key Judgments” include the following on Europe:

[The Soviets] see and seek to capitalize on a lack of Western consensus on major security issues—for example, implementing the LRTNF decision. . . . They have sought to generate pressures on West European government to influence Washington toward greater flexibility in its dealings with the USSR. They will continue to act politically to prevent LRTNF deployment through arms control offers that would ratify Soviet military advantages in Europe and through threats of counterdeployments.4

Soviet Data Manipulation—In September 1981, NIC M 81–1009—Evolving Soviet Strategy Toward LRTNF Negotiations confirmed sober assessments of the Soviet threat, including the negative impact of Soviet propaganda, presentation of “inconsistent” and “self-serving data bases,” and the increasing deployment asymmetries in favor of the Warsaw Pact. Different Soviet data manipulations are further detailed and Soviet propaganda and diplomatic objectives are described as follows:

to prevent the modernization of NATO LRTNF . . . to construct the data base to exclude Soviet nuclear systems that the Soviets do not wish to discuss . . to undercut U.S. efforts . . . to foster the sentiment that the security of Europe could be jeopardized by the United States for its own selfish ends. . . . Their public espousal of neatly delineated central and regional balances does not reflect actual Soviet thinking and planning, . . . but attempts to undercut U.S. countervailing strategy. . . . The Soviets are opening the LRTNF campaign by trying to entice the opponent into battles over specifics while they attack the opponent’s strategy by setting the conceptual framework.5

Department of State—September 1981. With the Europeans politically shaky in their INF arms control positions, the Reagan Administration made special efforts to consult closely with America’s NATO allies on new U.S. approaches to nuclear deterrence and arms control. An unclassified example of an NSC-coordinated U.S. presentation on INF is that of Richard Burt—Address on NATO and Nuclear Deterrence, presented in Brussels on September 23, 1981 by the Director of the Department of State’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs. Burt’s speech notes the Soviet military challenge; rejects Soviet complaints; points to the Atlantic vision and NATO deterrence; reviews the changing strategic context and U.S. TNF (and overall) U.S. arms control principles; and calls for “a choice of visions” between the U.S. and Soviet approaches.

[Book pg. 244]