Home » Research » Public Papers - 1991
Facebook Twitter Youtube Flickr

Events Newsletter

Click here to become a member of our e-club and receive news about special events and offers.

National Archives

Public Papers - 1991

Message to the Senate Transmitting the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe


To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The Treaty includes the following documents, which are integral parts thereof: the Protocol on Existing Types (with an Annex thereto), the Protocol on Aircraft Reclassification, the Protocol on Reduction, the Protocol on Helicopter Recategorization, the Protocol on Information Exchange (with an Annex on Format), the Protocol on Inspection, the Protocol on the Joint Consultative Group, and the Protocol on Provisional Application. The Treaty, together with the Protocols, was signed at Paris on November 19, 1990. I transmit also, for the information of the Senate, the Report of the Department of State on the Treaty.

In addition, I transmit herewith, for the information of the Senate, six documents associated with, but not part of, the Treaty that are relevant to the Senate's consideration of the Treaty: Statement by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dated June 14, 1991; Statement by the Government of the United States of America, dated June 14, 1991, responding to the Statement by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Statements identical in content were made by the 20 other signatory states on the same date. Copies of these Statements are also transmitted.); Declaration by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on the Personnel Strength of German Armed Forces, dated November 19, 1990; Declaration of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe With Respect to Personnel Strength, dated November 19, 1990; Declaration of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe With Respect to Land-Based Naval Aircraft, dated November 19, 1990; and Statement by the Representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the Joint Consultative Group, dated June 14, 1991. The first two Statements are legally binding and constitute a separate international agreement, while the latter four documents represent political commitments.

The CFE Treaty is the most ambitious arms control agreement ever concluded. The complexities of negotiating a treaty involving 22 nations and tens of thousands of armaments spread over an area of more than two and a half million square miles were immense. Difficult technical issues such as definitions, counting rules, methods for destroying reduced equipment, and inspection rights were painstakingly negotiated.

The Treaty is the first conventional arms control agreement since World War II. It marks the first time in history that European nations, together with the United States and Canada, have agreed to reduce and numerically limit their land-based conventional military equipment, especially equipment necessary to conduct offensive operations. Significantly, the reductions will eliminate the overwhelming Soviet numerical advantage in conventional armaments that has existed in Europe for more than 40 years. The Treaty's limits enhance stability by ending force disparities, and they limit the capability for launching surprise attack and initiating large-scale offensive action in Europe.

The Treaty contains a wide-ranging verification regime. Under this regime, in which intrusive on-site inspection complements national technical means to monitor compliance, ground and air forces of the participting states in the area of application of the Treaty will be subject to inspection, either at declared sites or with challenge inspections. The Treaty also provides for a detailed information exchange on the command organization of each participating state's land, air, and air defense forces as well as information about the number and location of each participating state's military equipment, subject to the limitations and other provisions of the Treaty. This information will be updated periodically and as significant changes to such data and reductions of equipment take place.

The military equipment to be reduced and limited consists of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, and combat aircraft in service with the conventional armed forces of the States Parties in Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. Inclusion of the Baltic military district within the area of application of the Treaty ensures that the Treaty's limits apply comprehensively to all Soviet forces within the area. This does not represent any change in the long-standing U.S. policy of nonrecognition of the forcible incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union. At the conclusion of the 40-month reduction period, the numerical limits on this equipment in the area of application for each group of participating states will be as follows: 20,000 battle tanks, 30,000 armored combat vehicles, 20,000 pieces of artillery, 2,000 attack helicopters, and 6,800 combat aricraft. All military equipment subject to and in excess of these limits that was in the area of application at the time of Treaty signature or entry into force (whichever amount is greater) must be destroyed or, within specified limits, converted to nonmilitary or other purposes. Subceilings are established for specific geographical zones within the area of application, the purpose of these being to thin out forces on the central front while forestalling buildups in the flank areas. Under the so-called ``sufficiency rule'' of the Treaty, no State Party may hold more than approximately one-third of the total amount of equipment in these five categories permitted within the area of application as a whole.

Above and beyond eliminating force disparities and limiting the capability for launching large-scale offensive action, the CFE Treaty will be of major importance in laying the indispensable foundation for the post-Cold War security architecture in Europe. Only with this foundation in place can we move from a European security order based on confrontation to one based on cooperation.

I believe that the CFE Treaty is in the best interests of the United States and represents an important step in defining the new security regime in Europe. It achieves unprecedented arms reductions that strengthen U.S., Canadian, and European security. Therefore, I urge the Senate to give early and favorable consideration to the Treaty and its related Protocols and Annexes, and to give advice and consent to its ratification.

George Bush

The White House,

July 9, 1991.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091