Salt 2 Agreements

The most important element of the summit was the salt agreements. Discussions on SALT have been going on for about two and a half years, but with little progress. However, during the meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev in May 1972, a monumental breakthrough was made. The SALT de accords signed on 27 May dealt with two important issues. First, they limited the number of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) sites to two. (ABMs were missiles designed to destroy arriving missiles.) Second, the number of intercontinental missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles has been frozen at current levels. However, the agreements have done nothing on several independent return missiles (individual missiles with several nuclear warheads) or on the development of new weapons. Yet most Americans and Soviets hailed the salts agreements as huge achievements. In January 1984, the United States reiterated its claim that the USSR had violated certain provisions of the treaty. In June, President Reagan reaffirmed that it was in the interest of the United States to maintain a middle framework of mutual restraint with the USSR and stated that the United States would continue to refrain from under-rating existing strategic arms agreements as long as the USSR showed comparable reluctance and actively pursued arms reduction agreements in the nuclear and space reduction talks (NST).

In January 1984, the USSR also reiterated its accusations that the United States had violated certain provisions of the treaty. The resulting set of agreements (SALT I) included the Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM) Treaty and the Interim Agreement and Protocol on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons. Both were signed by President Richard M. Nixon for the United States and Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, for the U.S.S.R. on May 26, 1972 at a summit in Moscow. On May 26, 1986, President Reagan stated that he had re-examined the status of U.S. interim policy and that the Soviet Union, as it had demonstrated in three detailed reports to Congress, had failed to live up to its political commitment to abide by the Salts agreements, including the SALT II Treaty, and that the Soviet Union had also not expressed its willingness to join a genuine mutual reserve. He said: “Faced with this situation… in the future, the United States will have to base its decisions on the strategic structure of its troops on the nature and extent of the threat of the strategic forces of the Soviet Union, and not on standards in the structure of the SALT…¬†In his statement, President Reagan stated that he did not expect significant growth in the strategic offensive forces of the United States and that, if it did not accept a significant change in the threat, the United States would not use strategic nuclear launchers or strategic ballistic warheads than the Soviets.

The United States, to sum up, “… Continue to exercise the utmost restraint while protecting strategic deterrence to promote the atmosphere necessary to significantly reduce the strategic arsenals of both parties. He again urged the Soviet Union to join the United States “… “Create an interim framework for real mutual restraint.” In 1977, Jimmy Carter, the new US president-elect, attempted to renegotiate the SALT II treaty to reduce the number of Soviet missiles.