Bureau of Arms Control
June 18, 2002
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (or CFE Treaty), signed in Paris on November 19, 1990, by the 22 members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, is a landmark arms control agreement that established parity in major conventional forces/armaments between East and West from the Atlantic to the Urals. It provides an unprecedented basis for lasting European security and stability. The original CFE Treaty (which is of unlimited duration) entered into force in 1992. Following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the enlargement of NATO in the 1990s, the then 30 CFE States Parties signed the Adaptation Agreement at the Istanbul OSCE Summit on 19 November 1999, to amend the CFE Treaty to take account of the evolving European geo-strategic environment.
Area of Application and Treaty Membership
The CFE Treaty covers the entire land territory of the States Parties in Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains (ATTU). It thus excludes much of the territory of Russia and all the territory of the U.S. and Canada - all signatories of the original and Adapted Treaty. The conventional forces of all three countries that are stationed in Europe are subject to CFE limits. The 30 CFE States Parties are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.
Major Treaty Provisions
The original CFE Treaty set equal limits for East and West in the ATTU on key conventional armaments essential for conducting surprise attacks or initiating large-scale offensive operations. Those armaments/equipment include: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, and artillery pieces, as well as combat aircraft (except for naval air) and attack helicopters. In addition to limitations on the number of armaments in each category, the Treaty also provides for central zonal limits to prevent destabilizing force concentrations in Europe and for regional ("flank") limits, which were modified by the Flank Agreement of May 1996. Whereas the original CFE Treaty established an East-West group structure for limiting NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional armaments, the Adapted Treaty provides for a system of national and territorial ceilings (the former limits the number of armaments each state may possess, while the latter limits the total number of Treaty-limited equipment present within a State Party's borders); an accession mechanism for new States Parties; enhanced verification and transparency regimes; and honoring current Treaty commitments pending entry into force of the Adapted Treaty. The Adapted Treaty will facilitate NATO enlargement and reinforce the territorial sovereignty of individual States Parties.
Achievements and Implementation of the Original CFE Treaty
The principal accomplishment of the CFE Treaty has been the large-scale reduction or destruction of conventional military equipment in the ATTU during the first 5 years the Treaty was in effect. By the end of the Treaty's reduction period in 1995, when equipment limits took effect, the 30 States Parties completed and verified by inspection the destruction or conversion of over 52,000 battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. In addition, they have conducted/accepted over 4000 intrusive on-site inspections of military units/installations, and of specified areas.
Ratification Prospects for the Adapted CFE Treaty
Ratification by NATO Allies of the Adapted Treaty is awaiting Russia's compliance with adapted CFE flank provisions and continued fulfillment of its Istanbul summit commitments regarding withdrawals of Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova. The Adapted Treaty will enter into force 10 days after instruments of ratification have been deposited by all States Parties.