Preparing to Talk
Nearly two years elapsed between the NATO decision in December 1979 and the beginning of the U.S.-Soviet INF negotiations. During this period, NATO efforts to bring the Soviet Union to the negotiating table continued despite changes in the U.S. presidency (from Carter to Reagan) and steadily worsening East-West relations. The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan took place two weeks after NATO's dual- track decision was announced, and Soviet interventionism became more marked throughout the Third World and in Eastern Europe. This increased East-West confrontation and competition undermined SALT II ratification in the U.S. Congress, hardened attitudes toward detente, and created the conditions for the vigorous U.S. military buildup during the Reagan years.
At the same time, Soviet leaders asserted that NATO's decision to deploy new U.S. INF missiles in Europe presented a new strategic threat for the Soviet Union since Pershing-II deployments would virtually remove the warning time of a U.S. missile strike against the USSR. Initially they sought to reverse the NATO 1979 decision by increasing political pressure on NATO governments and exciting popular resistance in Western Europe to the deployments. The Soviet campaign stimulated rapid growth of the European peace movement, but did not derail the NATO dual-track decision. As a result, in mid-1980 the Soviets switched tactics. They agreed to participate in INF negotiations--which would provide leverage at the negotiating table--but continued their diplomatic and