Nuclear Cruise Missiles: The Problem of Verification

  • Kosta Tsipis


The current intentions of the United States and the Soviet Union to aim towards reducing their nuclear strategic arsenals by 50 per cent may be undermined by the problem of Cruise missiles. Recognising the unique difficulties of verifying compliance with an agreement to limit this class of weapon, President Ronald Reagan and President Mikhail Gorbachev in their December 1987 meeting set sea-based nuclear Cruise missiles apart from the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) as a subject for later negotiations. For they are the most difficult aspect of the Cruise missile verification problem, but only by degree. Cruise missiles are small — about 20 feet long and 2 feet in diameter — and easily concealed; they can be launched from many different basings; and their conventional and nuclear versions are externally indistinguishable. In short, they present a daunting verification problem.


Verification Problem Conventional Version Naval Vessel Cruise Missile Nuclear Arsenal 
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© International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts 1991

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  • Kosta Tsipis

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