From a statement by former secretary of defense James R. Schlesinger at the Senate hearings on the INF Treaty ratification:
Nuclear deterrence for Europe will be altered but ought not be significantly reduced by this agreement. Altogether too much alarm, based upon faulty premises, has been expressed on this point. It has served to concentrate attention on the conventional imbalances in Europe, which need to be corrected, but on the faulty premise that the role of nuclear deterrence in the protection of Western Europe will have been fatally weakened. Deterrence depends upon Soviet perceptions of the strength and will of the United States reflected in its declared intent and its capabilities.
While there are those in certain military headquarters and in some European capitals who suggest that the nuclear deterrence of the Soviet Union is provided only by forces assigned to Allied Command Europe, this has not been the case in the past and should not be the case in the future. The Soviet Union is deterred by the overall power of the United States, whether or not forces are specifically assigned to NATO.
It is a form of parochialism in Europe to suggest that the Soviets have basically been deterred by a relative handful of warheads in Europe, none of which were deployed before 1983. It is the overall strength of America's strategic forces that has been the principal element in Europe's nuclear deterrent in the past and will remain so in the future. If the Soviet Union is not deterred by the 12,000 warheads in America's strategic forces that can reach Soviet soil, then the Soviet Union will not be deterred by the 12,400 warheads that could reach Soviet soil when we throw in a handful of weapons presently based in Europe that will be withdrawn under this treaty.