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

heads, in exchange for the elimination of all current or future Soviet INF ballistic missiles—then numbering 250 three-warhead SS–20s, 315 single-warhead SS–4s, and 35 single warhead SS–5s, totaling 1,100 deployed Soviet warheads.

Charts for Reagan’s INF Strategy. As Reagan spoke, he referenced a set of White House INF Charts, developed for his speech at the suggestion of NSC arms control staff and supported by White House communications officials. Charts on the INF force imbalance, key U.S. and Soviet systems, and the SS–20s range tracked with Reagan’s speech text and turned numerical abstractions into visual public illustrations on TV screens throughout the world. As Reagan spoke, red and blue graphic columns and lines moved dynamically to compare Soviet and U.S. weapons systems and made a compelling case for Reagan’s unprecedented proposal. Reagan carefully refuted Soviet claims and explained his proposal as follows:

[Unilateral Soviet Buildup] Let me call to your attention, the background against which our proposal is made. During the past 6 years while the U.S. deployed no new intermediate-range missiles and withdrew 1,000 nuclear warheads from Europe, the Soviet Union deployed 750 warheads on mobile, accurate ballistic missiles. They now have 1,100 warheads on the SS–20s, SS–4s and 5s. And the United States has no comparable missiles. Indeed, the United States dismantled the last such missile in Europe over 15 years ago.

[Facts Refuting Soviet Assertions] As we look to the future of the negotiations, it’s also important to address certain Soviet claims, which left unrefuted could become critical barriers to real progress in arms control. The Soviets assert that a balance of intermediate nuclear forces already exists. That assertion is wrong. By any objective measure, as this chart indicates, the Soviet Union has developed an increasingly overwhelming advantage. They now enjoy a superiority on the order of six to one. The red is the Soviet buildup; the blue is our own. That is 1975, and that is 1981. Now, Soviet spokesmen have suggested that moving their SS–20s behind the Ural Mountains will remove the threat to Europe. Well, as this map demonstrates, the SS–20s, even if deployed behind the Urals, will have a range that puts almost all of Western Europe—the great cities—Rome, Athens, Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, and so many more—all of Scandinavia, all of the Middle East, all of northern Africa, all within range of these missiles which, incidentally, are mobile and can be moved on shorter notice. These little images mark the present location which would give them a range clear out into the Atlantic. (headings added)9

Public Diplomacy. Reagan’s descriptive words and charts importantly informed American and global publics. He overcame the usual media filters as he refuted the flawed perspectives and data of his political opponents as well as outright Soviet lies and made a convincing case for his own zero-zero INF proposal. Widely circulated and further amplified and updated, the speech and its charts became core foundations for the Administration’s unprecedented, fact-filled, future public information and public diplomacy campaigns on defense and arms control.

3. Facing Down the Soviet “Moratorium,” the “Nuclear Freeze,” and a “Walk in the Woods”—Late 1981 to 1982

On the basis of Reagan’s detailed negotiation instructions, the U.S. delegation headed by Ambassador Paul Nitze opened negotiations with the Soviet Union in Geneva, Switzerland on November 30, 1981. Reagan and the negotiation team faced an immediate storm of Soviet counterproposals and sharp criticism from the Nuclear Freeze movement and other elements of the U.S. and international arms control community establishments.

Soviet “Zero” and “Moratorium” Proposals. At the INF negotiation table, in Moscow, and throughout Europe, the Soviets pushed against Reagan’s proposal with unrelenting military, front group, and diplomatic pressure that included more SS–20 deployments. Reagan was also under strong pressure at home from the Congress, media, and parts of his own bureaucracy. He was called “not serious” for seeking deep reductions, requiring asymmetric Soviet reductions to equal levels and for the principle of effective verification measures potentially including on-site inspections that Reagan’s critics said the Soviets must reject. Meanwhile, the Soviets and their allies continued to claim nuclear “parity” in Europe and to call for INF moratoriums based on their own unilateral version of “zero” that would ban any U.S. INF missiles, but not their own.

A Soviet Proposal for New and Wider “Caps.” As public controversy over the competing U.S. and Soviet versions of “zero” increased over the next months, the Soviet Union publicized a proposal for INF “caps” or “ceilings,” involving new numbers, systems and nations. The Soviets now called for an INF missile ceiling,

[Book pg. 247]