My former colleague, Frank Gaffney, has proposed that the administration "take a 'timeout' on the INF treaty" to address four questions about the treaty's effectiveness {op-ed, Nov. 30}. A timeout is not needed; we have been addressing these questions all along, and the answers are good ones:

Does the treaty actually eliminate the Soviet Union's INF missile infrastructure and capacity? In a word, yes. The treaty requires the Soviets to eliminate all INF missiles and launchers in the presence of U.S. inspectors. Similarly, certain supporting equipment and structures must be eliminated or modified according to agreed procedures that will render them incapable of supporting INF systems in the future.

After the elimination process is completed, a close-out inspection will be conducted by U.S. personnel at each former Soviet INF deployment or support facility to ensure that it no longer is involved in any INF-related activity. Certain support structures, such as garages formerly used for SS-20 support vehicles and hardened shelters formerly housing U.S. GLCMs, may be retained for non-INF purposes, but the sides will have the right for the next 13 years to conduct short-notice, on-site inspections to ensure that these structures and all former facilities are not performing an INF-related role.

Are the Soviet-supplied data complete, consistent and compatible with our own intelligence estimates of treaty-limited systems and activities? Again, yes. Additionally, the treaty gives us the right to conduct baseline inspections of all Soviet deployment and support facilities to verify the accuracy of these data.

Does the treaty language have important ambiguities or loopholes or provisions that otherwise might lend themselves to future debates about meaning and interpretation? The INF treaty is necessarily long and complex, and contains a great many provisions. There is no way we can today anticipate all future contingencies. That is why all arms-control treaties include provision for future consultations for the purpose of clearing up any differences that may arise. But a great deal of effort over several years of drafting has been devoted to making the text as precise and free of loopholes as we can make it.

Is there an effective on-site inspection regime for suspect facilities? Yes, not a perfect one but an effective one. A perfect regime would require anytime, anywhere, instantaneous, on-site inspection with no right of refusal by the inspected side. As Gaffney knows, the administration took a hard look at this type of regime over the past year and determined that, for the purposes of this agreement, it would be unnecessary, as well as detrimental to U.S. security interests, to give Soviet inspectors such unlimited access to our most secure facilities.

So we sought and achieved short-notice, on-site inspection of former INF deployment and support facilities, continuous monitoring of the exits of the facility that was used to assemble SS-20s and special measures to enhance our ability to monitor with reconnaissance satellites the SS-25 bases where illegal activity could most easily be conducted. If we suspect that illegal activity is going on elsewhere, we can challenge the Soviets in the Special Verification Commission created by the treaty and demand proof that our suspicions are unfounded.

Does this mean that we are guaranteed that the Soviets cannot hide an INF missile somewhere on their territory? No. But they cannot test such missiles, train troops in their operation or maintain the basing infrastructure necessary to support them, all of which we would detect with high probability. Without these, the Soviets could not maintain a militarily significant capability. That is the definition of effective verification.

A final point. Gaffney charges that the administration is endangering its efforts due to the time pressures created by an arbitrary deadline. In fact, the verification regime I have just described results from carefully considered U.S. proposals that were fully studied within the U.S. government and negotiated with the Soviets over the past several months. The significant movement made on verification during the past few weeks consisted of Soviet acceptance of our proposal for close-out inspections, Soviet acceptance of our quota for short-notice, on-site inspections and Soviet agreement to our proposed method of monitoring their former SS-20 final-assembly facility.

The writer is special assistant to the president and secretary of state on arms control matters.