On-Site Inspection in Theory and Practice: A Primer on Modern Arms Control Regimes

By George L.Rueckert | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Development of the Modern OSI Regime

VERIFICATION WATERSHEDS

Changing Standards

The advent of the Reagan administration in 1980 led to demands for much more stringent and intrusive verification regimes than in the past. President Reagan and his advisors rejected the prevailing standard of “adequate verification” and insisted on a more exacting standard termed “effective verification.” Part and parcel of this concept was the conviction that the Soviets had taken advantage of loosely drafted treaty language and weak verification provisions to cheat on past arms control agreements. This conviction was reflected in regular reports on Soviet arms control compliance, which began to appear in January 1984 and were issued on an annual basis thereafter. By the mid-1980s, these reports were concluding that the Soviet Union had violated its legal obligations under, or political commitments to, a wide variety of arms control agreements, including the SALT I Interim Agreement and ABM Treaty, the SALT II agreement, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, and the Helsinki Agreement. 1

The Reagan administration's call for “effective verification” was designed to make it much more difficult for the Soviets to evade treaty commitments and provide increased confidence that the United States would be able to detect, and respond appropriately to, any treaty violation before it could become militarily significant. With this standard in mind, the United States began to insist on more specific, carefully crafted treaty language and on agreements that contained more detailed data exchanges, enhanced national technical means, on-site inspections of unprecedented scope, and various types of technical on-site monitoring.

On-site inspection, in particular, was elevated to the status of a fundamental element of verification. While designed to signal a tougher approach to

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