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Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

November 19, 1990

Declaration of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe With Respect to Personnel Strength

In connection with the signature of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe of November 19, 1990, and with a view to the follow-on negotiations referred to in Article XVIII of that Treaty, the States Parties to that Treaty declare that, for the period of these negotiations, they will not increase the total peacetime authorized personnel strength of their conventional armed forces pursuant to the Mandate in the area of application.

Declaration of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe With Respect to Land-Based Naval Aircraft

To promote the implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the States Parties to the Treaty undertake the following political commitments outside the framework of the Treaty.

1. No one State will have in the area of application of the treaty more than 400 permanently land-based combat naval aircraft. It is understood that this commitment applies to combat aircraft armed and equipped to engage surface or air targets and excludes types designed as maritime patrol aircraft.

2. The aggregate number of such permanently land-based combat naval aircraft held by either of the two groups of States defined under the terms of the Treaty will not exceed 430.

3. No one State will hold in its naval forces within the area of application any permanently land-based attack helicopters.

4. The limitations provided for in this Declaration will apply beginning 40 months after entry into force of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

5. This Declaration will become effective as of entry into force of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

White House Fact Sheet

Today the 22 members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact signed a landmark agreement limiting conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE). The CFE treaty will establish parity in major conventional armaments between East and West in Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. The treaty will limit the size of Soviet forces to about one third of the total armaments permitted to all the countries in Europe. The treaty includes an unprecedented monitoring regime, including detailed information exchange, on-site inspection, challenge inspection, and monitoring of destruction.

East-West Limits

The treaty sets equal ceilings from the Atlantic to the Urals on key armaments essential for conducting surprise attack and initiating large-scale offensive operations. Neither side may have more than:

20,000 tanks

20,000 artillery pieces

30,000 armored combat vehicles (ACV's)

6,800 combat aircraft

2,000 attack helicopters.

To further limit the readiness of armed forces, the treaty sets equal ceilings on equipment that may be with active units. Other ground equipment must be in designated permanent storage sites. The limits for equipment each side may have in active units are:

16,500 tanks

17,000 artillery pieces

27,300 armored combat vehicles (ACV's).

In connection with the CFE treaty, the six members of the Warsaw Pact signed a treaty in Budapest on November 3, 1990, which divides the Warsaw Pact allocation by country. The members of NATO have consulted through NATO mechanisms and have agreed on national entitlements. These national entitlements may be adjusted.

Country Ceilings

The treaty limits the proportion of armaments that can be held by any one country in Europe to about one third of the total for all countries in Europe -- the "sufficiency" rule. This provision constrains the size of Soviet forces more than any other in the treaty. These limits are:

13,300 tanks

13,700 artillery pieces

20,000 armored combat vehicles (ACV's)

5,150 combat aircraft

1,500 attack helicopters.

Regional Arrangements

In addition to limits on the number of armaments in each category on each side, the treaty also includes regional limits to prevent destabilizing force concentrations of ground equipment.


Equipment reduced to meet the ceilings must be destroyed or, in a limited number of cases, have its military capability destroyed, allowing the chassis to be used for nonmilitary purposes. After the treaty enters into force, there will be a 4-month baseline inspection period. After the 4-month baseline period, 25 percent of the destruction must be complete by the end of 1 year, 60 percent by the end of 2 years, and all destruction required by the treaty must be complete by the end of 3 years. Parties have 5 years to convert limited amounts of equipment.

Large amounts of equipment will be destroyed to meet the obligations of the CFE treaty. The Soviet Union alone will be obliged to destroy thousands of weapons, much more equipment than will be reduced by all the NATO countries combined. NATO will meet its destruction obligations by destroying its oldest equipment. In a process called "cascading," NATO members with newer equipment, including the U.S., have agreed to transfer some of this equipment to allies with older equipment. Cascading will not reduce NATO's destruction obligation. Under the cascading system, no U.S. equipment must be destroyed to meet CFE ceilings. Some 2,000 pieces of U.S. equipment will be transferred to our NATO allies.


The treaty includes unprecedented provisions for detailed information exchanges, on-site inspections, challenge inspections, and on-site monitoring of destruction. At the initiative of the U.S., NATO has established a system to cooperate in monitoring the treaty. Parties have an unlimited right to monitor the process of destruction.

The CFE treaty is of unlimited duration and will enter into force 10 days after all parties have ratified the agreement.

Note: In the morning, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed in a ceremony in the Salle des Fetes at the Palais de l'Elysee. The declarations and fact sheet were made available by the Office of the Press Secretary as three separate documents, but the declarations were not issued as White House press releases.

George Bush, Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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