The Gorbachev leadership has embarked on nuclear disarmament to reinforce deterrence by decreasing the capacity of either side to conduct successful military operations using nuclear arms. It sacrifices Soviet advantages in an effort to curb U.S. weapon programs. The USSR attempts to constrain the SDI program that threatens to devalue Soviet retaliatory capabilities. Reductions in first-strike potentials, particularly in heavy ICBMs, are designed to diminish the risks of nuclear attack. Relinquishing Soviet preponderance in intermediate- and short-range missiles has secured the elimination of American Pershing-2s and GLCMs and served to minimize the possibility of conventional hostilities in Europe degenerating into nuclear war. The Soviet Union seeks to restrict the U.S. weapon systems that it deems most threatening, namely those best suited for preemption and those incorporating advanced technologies.
By strengthening the nuclear balance, arms control enhances political stability. Bilateral moves to restructure nuclear arsenals require cooperation and build trust between the superpowers. Disarmament relieves Western pressure on the USSR by limiting American first-strike capabilities and technologically sophisticated U.S. weapons, and thereby renders the Soviet Union secure enough to compromise on a wide range of international issues and to create an opening to the West. Soviet concessions demonstrate the USSR's commitment to stability and stimulate Western interest in establishing cooperative relations.