Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Learn more about Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks refers to two rounds of bilateral talks and corresponding international treaties between the Soviet Union and United States, the Cold War superpowers, on the issue of armament control. There were two rounds of talks and agreements: SALT I and SALT II. SALT II later became START.
Negotiations started in Helsinki, Finland, in 1969 between the United States and the Soviet Union to limit the countries' stock of nuclear weapons. The treaties resulting from these negotiations are called SALT I and SALT II. These treaties have led to START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). START I (a 1991 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union) and START II (a 1993 agreement between the United States and Russia) placed specific caps on each side's stock of nuclear weapons.
 SALT I
SALT I is the common name for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement, but 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 (SLBM) launchers only after the same number of older intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been dismantled.
The strategic nuclear forces of the Soviet Union and the United States were changing in character in the late 1960s. The Soviet program was for the continued deployment of heavy land-based missiles and new ballistic missile submarines; the Soviet Union had been deploying around 200 more missiles every year since 1968. The U.S.'s total number of missiles had been static since 1967 at 1054 ICBMs and 656 SLBMs but there was an increasing number of missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads being deployed. One clause of the treaty required both countries to limit the sites protected by an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system to one. The Soviet Union had deployed such a system around Moscow in 1966 and the United States announced an ABM program to protect twelve ICBM sites in 1967.
Negotiations lasted from November 17, 1969 until May 1972 in a series of meetings beginning in Helsinki, with the U.S. delegation headed by Gerard C. Smith, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Further sessions alternated between Vienna and Helsinki. After a long deadlock, the first results of SALT I came in May 1971, when agreement was reached over ABM systems. Further discussion brought the negotiations to an end on May 26, 1972 in Moscow when Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 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.
 SALT II
SALT II was a second round of talks from 1972 to 1979 between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which sought to curtail the manufacture of strategic nuclear weapons. It was a continuation of progress made during the SALT I talks.
An agreement to limit strategic launchers was reached in Vienna on June 18, 1979, and was signed by Leonid Brezhnev and President Jimmy Carter. Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union deployed troops in Afghanistan, and as such the treaty was never ratified by the United States Senate. Its terms were nonetheless honored by both sides.
 Larger historical context
The nuclear arms race, a feature of the Cold War, was expensive for both sides. Even though no weapons were ever actually used, the build up was a huge expense for the respective economies of the US and the USSR, and may have in fact led to the downfall of the latter.
 See also
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
- Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
- Non-Proliferation Treaty
- Threshold Test Ban Treaty
- Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
 External links
- Text of SALT I
- Text of SALT II
- Text of SALT II (cont.)
- Text of the treaty from the U.S. Department of State
- NuclearFiles.org Text of SALT II 1979
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