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Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Overview
The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty refers to two rounds of bilateral
Bilateralism
Bilateralism consists of the political, economic, or cultural relations between two sovereign states. For example, free trade agreements signed by two states are examples of bilateral treaties. It is in contrast to unilateralism or multilateralism, which refers to the conduct of diplomacy by a...

 talks and corresponding international treaties involving the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

—the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s—on the issue of armament control
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

. There were two rounds of talks and agreements: SALT I and SALT II.

Negotiations commenced in Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, in 1969. SALT I led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was a treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons....

 and an interim agreement between the two powers. Although SALT II resulted in an agreement in 1979, the United States chose not to ratify the treaty in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

, which took place later that year.
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Encyclopedia
The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty refers to two rounds of bilateral
Bilateralism
Bilateralism consists of the political, economic, or cultural relations between two sovereign states. For example, free trade agreements signed by two states are examples of bilateral treaties. It is in contrast to unilateralism or multilateralism, which refers to the conduct of diplomacy by a...

 talks and corresponding international treaties involving the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

—the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s—on the issue of armament control
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

. There were two rounds of talks and agreements: SALT I and SALT II.

Negotiations commenced in Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, in 1969. SALT I led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was a treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons....

 and an interim agreement between the two powers. Although SALT II resulted in an agreement in 1979, the United States chose not to ratify the treaty in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

, which took place later that year. The US eventually withdrew from SALT II in 1986.

The treaties then led to START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which consisted of START I
START I
START was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994...

 (a 1991 agreement between the United States, the Soviet Union) and START II
START II
START II was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and Russia on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed by United States President George H. W...

 (a 1993 agreement between the United States and Russia). These placed specific caps on each side's number of nuclear weapons.

SALT I


SALT I is the common name for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement, also known as Strategic Arms limitation Treaty. SALT I froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at existing levels, and provided for the addition of new submarine-launched ballistic missile
Submarine-launched ballistic missile
A submarine-launched ballistic missile is a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines. Modern variants usually deliver multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles each of which carries a warhead and allows a single launched missile to...

 (SLBM) launchers only after the same number of older intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been dismantled.

The strategic nuclear forces niche of the Soviet Union and the United States was changing in character in 1968. The U.S.'s total number of missiles had been static since 1967 at 1,054 ICBMs and 656 SLBMs, but there was an increasing number of missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle warhead is a collection of nuclear weapons carried on a single intercontinental ballistic missile or a submarine-launched ballistic missile . Using a MIRV warhead, a single launched missile can strike several targets, or fewer targets redundantly...

 (MIRV) warheads being deployed. MIRV's carried multiple nuclear warheads, often with dummies, to confuse ABM systems, making MIRV defense by ABM systems increasingly difficult and expensive. One clause of the treaty required both countries to limit the number of sites protected by an anti-ballistic missile
Anti-ballistic missile
An anti-ballistic missile is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles .A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" describes any antimissile system designed to counter...

 (ABM) system to two each. The Soviet Union had deployed such a system around Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in 1966 and the United States announced an ABM program to protect twelve ICBM sites in 1967. A modified two-tier Moscow ABM system is still used. The U.S. built only one ABM
Anti-ballistic missile
An anti-ballistic missile is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles .A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" describes any antimissile system designed to counter...

 site to protect Minuteman base in North Dakota where the "Safeguard Program
Safeguard Program
The Safeguard Program was a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system developed during the late 1960s. Safeguard was designed to protect U.S. ICBM missile sites from counterforce attack, thus preserving the option of an unimpeded retaliatory strike. Safeguard used much of the same technology...

" was deployed. Due to the system's expense and limited effectiveness, the Pentagon disbanded "Safeguard" in 1975.

Negotiations lasted from November 17, 1969, until May 1972 in a series of meetings beginning in Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, with the U.S. delegation headed by Gerard C. Smith
Gerard C. Smith
Gerard Coad Smith was the chief U.S. delegate to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in 1969 and the first U.S. Chairman of the Trilateral Commission. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on January 16, 1981 by President Jimmy Carter.-Biography:Gerard Smith was born in New York City...

, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was established as an independent agency of the United States government by the Arms Control and Disarmament Act , September 26, 1961, a bill drafted by presidential adviser John J. McCloy. Its predecessor was the U.S. Disarmament Administration, part...

. Subsequent sessions alternated between Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and Helsinki. After a long deadlock, the first results of SALT I came in May 1971, when an agreement was reached over ABM systems. Further discussion brought the negotiations to an end on May 26, 1972, in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 when Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 and Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 signed both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was a treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons....

 and the Interim Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Certain Measures With Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. A number of agreed statements were also made. This helped improve relations between the U.S. and the USSR.

SALT II


SALT II was a controversial experiment of negotiations between Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev from 1977 to 1979 between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which sought to curtail the manufacture of strategic nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s. It was a continuation of the progress made during the SALT I talks, led by representatives from both countries. SALT II was the first nuclear arms treaty which assumed real reductions in strategic forces to 2,250 of all categories of delivery vehicles on both sides. SALT II helped the U.S. to discourage the Soviets from arming their third generation ICBMs of SS-17, SS-19 and SS-18 types with many more Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle warhead is a collection of nuclear weapons carried on a single intercontinental ballistic missile or a submarine-launched ballistic missile . Using a MIRV warhead, a single launched missile can strike several targets, or fewer targets redundantly...

s (MIRVs). In the late 1970s the USSR's missile design bureaus had developed experimental versions of these missiles equipped with anywhere from 10 to 38 thermonuclear warheads each. Additionally, the Soviets secretly agreed to reduce Tu-22M
Tupolev Tu-22M
The Tupolev Tu-22M is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force....

 production to thirty aircraft per year and not to give them an intercontinental range. It was particularly important for the US to limit Soviet efforts in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and...

 (INF) rearmament area. The SALT II Treaty banned new missile programs (a new missile defined as one with any key parameter 5% better than in currently deployed missiles), so both sides were forced to limit their new strategic missile types development. However, the US preserved their most essential programs like Trident and cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s, which President Carter wished to use as his main defensive weapon as they were too slow to have first strike capability. In return, the USSR could exclusively retain 308 of its so-called "heavy ICBM
Heavy ICBM
Heavy ICBM is a term that was created in the 1970s to describe a class of Soviet ICBMs . They were characterized by a heavy throw-weight of 5 to 9 metric tons and a length of over 35 meters, and were thus capable of delivering a large number of warheads in a single MIRV missile.This term usually...

" launchers of the SS-18 type.

An agreement to limit strategic launchers was reached in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 on June 18, 1979, and was signed by Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 and President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

. In response to the refusal of the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 to ratify the treaty, a young member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, met with the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko, "educated him about American concerns and interests" and secured several changes that neither the U.S. Secretary of State nor President Jimmy Carter could obtain.

Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and in September of the same year, the Soviet combat brigade deployed to Cuba was discovered. In light of these developments, the treaty was never formally ratified
Ratification
Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principal. The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutionals in federations such as the United States and Canada.- Private law :In contract law, the...

 by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. Its terms were, nonetheless, honored by both sides until 1986 when the Reagan Administration withdrew from SALT II after accusing the Soviets of violating the pact.

Subsequent discussions took place under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
START I
START was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994...

 (START) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

See also

  • Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
    Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
    The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996 but it has not entered into force.-Status:...

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
    Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
    The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and...

  • Measures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

  • START
    START I
    START was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994...

  • Threshold Test Ban Treaty
    Threshold Test Ban Treaty
    The Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests, also known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty , was signed in July 1974 by the USA and the USSR...


External links