The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) began by raising hopes for legitimate and intelligent arms reduction. But SALT, far from limiting strategic nuclear weapons has, actually, spurred the arms race to dangerous proportions. It now appears that the SALT talks have been a boon for new weapons procurement.
Ironically the use of arms reduction negotiations to proliferate the arms race was built into the SALT treaty from the beginning. The limitations were placed on quantitative measures only. It seemed that Kissinger and Laird, both instrumental in securing the agreement, were aware that several adjustments, that were proposed prior to and just after the agreement was reached, were escalations of arms manufacturing and not restraints. Nowhere in the treaties was there a section for qualitative reductions. This led the U. S. to increase its MIRVed missile forces from 820 in 1972, to 1046 presently. The U. S. has also made qualitative improvements by MARVing its missiles. Just before the initial treaty was si ned, in 1972, the Trident submarine and Trident I missile systems were developed and Congress approved full scale R & D. The Trident missile has been deployed since 1976.
The cruise missile, now in full scale research and development, is not covered by the treaties. It is a qualitative measure. The United States is reportedly ten years ahead of the Soviets on cruise missile technology.
Had there been no SALT treaty, the chances of cruise missile development might not have been as rapid. However, as a result of SALT, and impending negotiations, the Navy pushed the Trident submarine force through with few limitations.
Critics of SALT fail to count the qualitative lead that the U. S. possesses and usually play the numbers game instead.
The U: S. is now developing two new weapons systems designed for our counterforce strategy; the MX missile and the MK-12A warhead (both qualitative improvements). While many citizens hear the rhetoric about “those cheating Soviets,” the U. S. is quietly upgrading and improving its weapons with little difficulty and under the guise of SALT:
Due to the lack of accurate publicity with respect to the U. S. position in the SALT talks, this story is being nominated as one of the “best censored stories of 1977.”
SOURCE: “SALT: The End of Arms Control,” by Fred M. Kaplan, The Progressive, January, 1978, pp. 22-27.