Inactive Strategic Treaties
Treaty Name: Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty)
Signed by the United States: May 26, 1972
Ratified by the United States: August 3, 1972
Entry Into Force: October 3, 1972
United States Withdrawal: June 14, 2002
Treaty Structure: The text of the treaty consists of sixteen articles. Seven agreed statements and five common understandings were initialed by the heads of the delegations on the day the treaty was signed. Other associated documents were signed later and can be found in the index.
Treaty Background: Concerned that the development of robust strategic defenses could upset the nuclear balance between the United States and USSR, the two countries sought to codify geographic and numerical limits on strategic defense systems. The result was the ABM Treaty, signed in Moscow 1972 by President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev. While initially successful in limiting the scope of strategic defenses in the arms race, the ABM Treaty did not preclude development of other missile defense concepts.
In announcing its plans to withdraw from the ABM Treaty in December 2001, the Bush Administration stated that the United States faced a security environment different from the superpower competition that pushed the treaty's negotiators to seek strategic balance by limiting defenses:
"Today, the United States and Russia face new threats to their security. Principal among these threats are weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means wielded by terrorists and rogue states. A number of such states are acquiring increasingly longer-range ballistic missiles as instruments of blackmail and coercion against the United States and its friends and allies. The United States must defend its homeland, its forces and its friends and allies against these threats. We must develop and deploy the means to deter and protect against them, including through limited missile defense of our territory."1
The United States officially withdrew from the ABM Treaty on June 14, 2002.
Treaty Objectives: The fundamental purpose of the ABM Treaty was to constrain the Parties from deploying territory-wide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. "Each country thus leaves unchallenged the penetration capability of the others retaliatory missile forces"2 which the framers believed would assure the deterrent capabilities of the two negotiating parties.
Treaty Provisions: Article I prohibited deployment of ABM systems for territorial defense or for regional defense except as provided for in Article III (below).
Article II defined an ABM system as a system to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, consisting of interceptor missiles, launchers, and radars.
Article III, as amended by a 1974 Protocol, limited each Party to a single ABM deployment site consisting of no more than 100 interceptor missiles, no more than 100 interceptor launchers, plus other specific limitations on ABM radars.
Article IV exempted limited numbers of ABM systems or components used for development and testing and located at agreed ABM test sites from Article III constraints.
Article V prohibited the development, testing, and deployment of sea-, air-, or space-based and mobile ABM systems and components.
Article VI prohibited giving ABM capabilities to non-ABM systems, prohibits testing non-ABM systems in an ABM mode, and limits deployment of early warning Large Phased Array Radars (LPARs) to each country's periphery, oriented outward.
Article XII established National Technical Means (NTM) as the only tool for verification of compliance, and prohibits each party from interfering in the other's use of NTM.
Agreed Statement "D" of the Treaty required that discussion and agreement in the SCC on development of ABM systems based on "other physical principles" (OPP) than those used when the Treaty was signed.
Reporting Requirements: Parties notified each other of the number and type (above-ground or silo) of ABM launchers and of number of ABM radars on which dismantling or destruction has been completed and is in process, and of number of ABM launchers and ABM radars used for replacements. (1974 Protocol on Procedures Governing Replacement, Dismantling, or Destruction, and Notification Thereof, for ABM Systems and Their Components)
Notification of the replacement of components of an ABM system, both within a deployment area and when the deployment area of an ABM system or its components is being exchanged, were to be given twice annually in the Standing Consultative Commission at the beginning of regular SCC sessions, reflecting the actual status as of the beginning of that session and covering the period since the last notification in the SCC. (1976 Supplementary Protocol to the 1974 Procedures Governing Replacement, Dismantling, or Destruction, and Notification Thereof, for ABM Systems and Their Components)
Notifications regarding the exchange of the deployment area of an ABM system or its components were to be given in the Standing Consultative Commission pursuant to Article II of the Protocol to the Treaty. (1976 Supplementary Protocol to the 1974 Procedures Governing Replacement, Dismantling, or Destruction, and Notification Thereof, for ABM Systems and Their Components)
Notification of the location of additional test range no later than thirty days after the beginning of any construction or assembly work, other than earthwork (excavation) was required. (1978 Agreed Statement)
Notification within thirty days regarding unexpected concurrent operations was required. (1985 Common Understanding)
1. December 13, 2001, Office of the Press Secretary, White House, Announcement of Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty
2. Introduction to ABM Treaty Text: https://www.state.gov/t/isn/trty/16332.htm