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INF Treaty and Arms Control

December 06, 1987

Brody's and Chow's opinion piece condemning the INF treaty is an earnest but ultimately self-defeating attack upon the first real arms-reduction agreement in history. Several points deserve a rebuttal.

- Brody and Chow complain that the treaty is "intrinsically unverifiable" without offering a shred of evidence to support their argument. Even stranger, then, is their call for allowing conventionally armed cruise missiles while banning those armed with nuclear warheads. That proposal is intrinsically and dangerously unverifiable since the two versions are identical in appearance.

- Stockpiling ground-launched cruise missiles while pretending they are sea-launched cruise missiles is foolish for the simple reason that for such missiles to be useful they need ground-support equipment and trained personnel to operate them. Cruise missiles might be surreptitiously stockpiled but it would be nearly impossible for either the U.S. or the Soviet Union to train with or deploy them without the other knowing.

- Since U.S. and NATO aircraft will remain somewhat vulnerable in spite of the agreement, a simple response would be to place more of these systems on Quick Reaction Alert, for example the 70 aircraft on the two aircraft carriers cruising the Mediterranean.

- The crux of the authors' argument is that the U.S. needs weapons capable of attacking Soviet forces deep behind the front lines. But ground-launched cruise missiles are only a small part of the forces usable for such a mission (only 464 were ever planned for deployment). Brody and Chow neglect to mention the 534 British and 473 French warheads already targeted on the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations, a substantial number of which could be used to support NATO in a European war.

The INF treaty is a long-needed step to decrease the tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union in Europe. Once coupled with significant and verifiable reductions in strategic missiles, the arms race can be halted and reversed.

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

Los Angeles

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