Medium-Range Nuclear Weapons Negotiations: Was the "Zero Option" Really So Bad?
On March 12, 1985, the Nuclear and Space Talks (NST) began in Geneva. One portion of these talks involved negotiations on Medium-Range Nuclear Weapons (MRNW), or intermediate- range nuclear forces (INF) in U.S. terminology). The directives developed by the Five for these negotiations reflected many aspects of the main tasks put forward by the Soviet leadership during the earlier negotiations in 1982 and 1983. In fact, the primary goals remained unchanged: first, to make the United States halt the deployment of new missiles, and, second, to force withdrawal of these weapons from Europe. In return, the Soviet Union would be prepared cease fielding new SS-20/RSD-10s and, later, to "back off" all its "measures of response."
At the same time, the Soviet aim was to achieve an agreement on the reductions of the Soviet and NATO MRNW in Europe to agreed levels; in other words British and French nuclear forces would be taken into general account. This proposal was preconditioned on the complete withdrawal of all American Pershing II ballistic missiles and GLCM from Europe. From its part, the Soviet Union was prepared to reduce the total of its medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) in the European zone to a number equal--by warheads--to those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, combined. The Soviet