WASHINGTON -- The United States notified the Soviet Union Wednesday it will destroy the last Pershing 1A ballistic missile on July 6 as part of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
'Weather permitting, one U.S. Pershing 1A first-stage rocket motor and one U.S. Pershing 1A second-stage rocket motor will be eliminated by static firing at Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant near Marshall, Texas.
'This event will complete, for the first time, the elimination of a nuclear weapons system under the terms of the INF Treaty,' the Defense Department said in a statement. Each missile is composed of two rocket motor stages.
'Elimination of the U.S. Pershing 2 missile system will continue at the U.S. Army Pueblo Depot Activity near Pueblo, Colo.,' it said.
The INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, which took effect June 1, 1988, calls for elimination of 846 U.S. and 1,846 Soviet ground-launched nuclear missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.
Of the 846 U.S. missiles affected when the treaty was signed, 169 were Pershing 1As, 234 were the second-generation Pershing 2s, and 443 were ground-launched cruise missiles.
The aging Pershing 1As were deployed in West Germany in the 1960s under joint U.S.-German control. They were returned to the United States with the signing of the INF Treaty. The Pershing 1As had a range of 300 to 600 miles.
As of Monday, the United States had destroyed all but one of the 169 Pershing 1As, 27 Pershing 2s and 130 cruise missiles, leaving 521 missiles to be eliminated.
The Soviet missiles to be eliminated included 654 SS-20s, 718 SS-12s, 239 SS-23s, 149 SS-4s, six SS-5s, and 80 SSC-X-4s -- a new missile that was developed but never deployed.
As of Monday, the U.S. On-Site Inspection Agency said the Soviets had destroyed 213 SS-20s, 656 SS-12s, none of their SS-23s, two SS-5s and all 80 of the SSC-X-4s -- leaving 1,030 missiles to be eliminated.
No nuclear warheads have to be destroyed under the INF accord, only the delivery systems or missiles. All of the missiles carry a single warhead except the SS-20s, which carry three warheads.
Under the U.S. system of destroying missiles, warheads and electronics are removed and then the rocket motors are fired in a stationary mode until all fuel is spent. The motor housing is then crushed in a vise like a beer can.
The Soviets use explosives to destroy their unarmed missiles.