When the new treaty eliminating medium-range nuclear arms takes effect, the superpowers will immediately begin the process of destroying part of their nuclear arsenals. One day after the pact becomes official, the United States and Soviet Union will swap long lists of names of possible inspectors for on-site treaty verification. These people will visit various sites in each other's country for years to try to make sure the treaty is not being violated.
After a few months of mutual inspecting, the actual destruction will begin - using methods from burning the missiles to launching them into the ocean.
Overseeing the process will be a new bilateral group, the Special Verification Committee. The cost of eliminating the missiles, according to Secretary of State George Shultz, could run as much as $7 billion to $9 billion.
``The whole thing is beginning to sound like a Roosevelt public works program'' for nuclear weapon specialists, says an official at the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
But implementing the treaty will result in plenty of work for all concerned. The destruction of a whole class of nuclear weapons is unprecedented - as is the amount of superpower cooperation the intermediate-range pact calls for.
Compliance with the INF pact includes several key steps.
Preparation. Within 30 days after the treaty takes effect, each side must give the other detailed, updated data about its intermediate-range missiles - how many, where they are, and the like. The two superpowers will then exchange inspectors, who will verify this information.
Destruction. The first phase of missile destruction is to last 29 months. By then, the superpowers are to retain no more than 200 medium-range missile warheads each, either deployed or in storage. By three years after the treaty takes effect all medium-range weapons are to be eliminated. (Certain shorter-range systems also covered by the treaty will be eliminated under a different, shorter timetable.)
A treaty protocol lists, with relish, detailed destruction procedures. US Pershing 2 missiles, for instance, are to have their parts ``eliminated by explosive demolition or burning.'' Rocket nozzles and other left-over items are to be ``burned, crushed, flattened or destroyed by explosion.''
Up to 100 missiles on each side can be eliminated by the simple expedient of launching them into the ocean - a provision the Soviets favored. And treaty provisions allow 30 intermediate-range weapons to be preserved as static display artifacts.
``You take them and put them out in front of a museum and make sure that there's no powder in them,'' US INF negotiator Maynard Glitman said at a briefing.
Throughout the destruction process, each nation will have to tell the other 30 days in advance about when and where weapons are to be eliminated.
Verification. For 13 years after the treaty takes effect, two types of verification procedures will be in force: (1) continuous monitoring of the Soviet missile plant in Votkinsk, and the US MX and Trident 2 factory in Magna, Utah; and (2) short-notice ``challenge'' inspections of sites where INF missiles are or have been.
The treaty protocol on verification goes into great detail about verification procedures. It specifies, for instance, that the host nation shall supply construction materials for the buildings where inspectors will sit while watching at Votkinsk and Magna.
Short-notice challenge teams will be allowed to bring such equipment as linear measurement devices, portable scales, radiation detectors, and cameras. They won't be able to shoot pictures themselves, however; escorts will take their cameras and do it for them.
Besides the up to 600 inspectors that each nation will have on call at any one time, a number of standing bodies will be involved in the INF destruction process.
Nuclear risk reduction centers - established by a prior US-Soviet agreement but not yet put in place - will be used to pass initial INF data back and forth. There will be one such center in Washington and one in Moscow; both will be staffed jointly by US and Soviet nuclear experts.
And a new forum, the Special Verification Commission, will be established to handle INF disputes. Either nation will be able to call an SVC meeting when it has something to complain about, says the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency official.
A similar body, the Standing Consultative Commission, handles questions regarding other arms treaties already in force.
Despite the INF treaty's length and detail, there are still gray areas, experts point out.
``People on either side who wish to immediately assert violations will be able to do so,'' says Michael Krepon, a verification analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
For instance, ground-launched cruise missiles of medium range are now banned. But sea-launched versions of this weapon are not. Land tests of sea-launched cruise missiles could thus be open to a charge of cheating, Mr. Krepon says.
Some conservative critics of the INF pact are already griping that the Soviets are holding out on the US. These critics say that Moscow's stated total of 1,752 missiles covered by the INF pact understates the Soviets' true INF numbers.