The Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles--the INF ( Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty--was signed in December 1987. It was the last of the superpower arms control agreements negotiated, signed, ratified and partially implemented during the period of cold-war confrontation and competition. All subsequent superpower arms control agreements have been concluded and implemented under radically changed geopolitical conditions. The U.S.-USSR agreements on new verification protocols to the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) and 1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET), the next arms control agreements to be signed, were concluded on June 1, 1990, and ratified in October 1990--a year after Warsaw Pact ties had unraveled in Eastern Europe and the same month as the reunffication of Germany. Barely six months after the Strategic Nuclear Arms Reductions Treaty (START) was signed in July 1991, the Soviet Union itself disintegrated into a loose, internally competitive Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and several additional independent countries.
The historic geopolitical transformations which have occurred since the signing of the INF Treaty have significantly altered the role of arms control. The pace of East-West and multilateral arms control negotiations has greatly increased, talks have become more productive, and the focus of arms control has changed. By the end of the 1980s, arms control negotiations had become perceptively more cooperative, and both bilateral and multilateral talks had shifted away from confrontation toward rapid