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Soviet Union

Denuclearization of Europe

Since the 1950s, Soviet leaders have sought complete removal of nuclear weapons from Western Europe. Stripping Europe of nuclear weapons not only would reduce the nuclear threat on the Soviet periphery but also would make easier a Soviet conventional offensive in Europe. In l988, even before the INF agreement had been ratified by the United States Senate, Soviet spokesmen were advocating removal of all nuclear weapons from Europe. They especially focused on NATO's tactical nuclear weapons arsenal, deployed mainly in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

In late l987, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze asserted that on INF agreement was a step toward denuclearization and that its signing proved that "the Soviet Union and the United States have finally spoken together the first word in a nuclear-free vocabulary." Soviet and Soviet-sponsored denuclearization initiatives in Europe have included several proposals for a nuclear-weapon-free corridor in Central Europe (submitted between 1956 and 1987 by the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia), as well as for nuclear-weapon-free zones in Northern Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. If such zones were established, the United States and NATO would have to withdraw nuclear weapons not only from Europe but also from the surrounding seas.

Data as of May 1989