Advancing a Free Society

Learning From Experience on Arms Control

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The New Start treaty provides an instructive example of how, when everyone works at it, an important element of arms control treaties can be improved by building on past treaties and their execution.

I remember well the treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), as I had a hand in negotiating the treaty and in getting implementation started. Our mantra was stated almost endlessly by President Ronald Reagan, to the point that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would join in: "Trust but verify."

Reagan insisted on, and we obtained, on-site inspection of the critical elements in the treaty: the destruction of all missiles and a method of ensuring that new ones were not produced. This critical element in the treaty built on an earlier one. The Stockholm Agreement of 1986 was the first U.S.-Soviet agreement to call for on-site observation of military maneuvers. Although not as intrusive as a close look at nuclear facilities, it was nevertheless an important conceptual breakthrough. The idea of on-site inspection had been accepted and put in practice.

Continue reading George Shultz in The Wall Street Journal