Concern over nuclear weapons is not the monopoly of today’s anti-nuclear movement. Leaders of both superpowers have themselves long recognised the need to curb the growth of their respective nuclear arsenals and to nudge their competition and mutual suspicion into less deadly channels. So far this has been easier said than done. Detente — the relaxation of tensions between east and west in the 1970s — should have made the task easier. In some ways it probably did for a time. It is always easier to sit down and talk about difficult problems if a modicum of goodwill exists on both sides. The first strategic arms limitation agreement (SALT 1) was signed in 1972, just as detente was getting into full swing. Negotiations began almost immediately on a follow-up agreement, SALT 2. Yet looking back from a vantage point in the 1980s, the arms control record of the 1970s is disappointing, especially when measured against those aspects of the arms competition left unchecked and the tasks still ahead. Why?
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Cruise Missile Strategic Stability Soviet Invasion Strategic Balance
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