Is There Life After Death for SALT?
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IT h e SALT I ”Freeze” Agreement was signed in 1972. It expired by its terms in 1977. Four years later, those terms, for the most part, are still being observed. The SALT 1 1Treaty was signed in 1979. The effort to ratify it faltered later that year and stopped in the fall of 1980, when we elected a President who opposed its ratification. But a year after most politicians and pundits pronounced SALT I1 dead, its terms also, for the most part, are still being observed. It is even possible that de fact0 observation may continue for the full duration of the SALT I1 Treaty, which would have expired at the end of 1985. Of course, there are legal difficulties with the posture of observing a treaty that has expired or not been ratified. Both sides have been carefulto preserve the proprieties by proclaiming their own freedom of action, and by stating, in a lower key, no more than their ”present intentions’’ to continue observing , assuming that the other side does also. In the United States, our separation of powers complicates the legal situation even further, and the Executive ’s statements do not bind the Congress. But the fact is that two years after SALT II was signed, and with the prospects for early ratification somewhere between low and invisible, the United States and the Soviet Union continue to abide by its terms, as well as those of the SALT I freeze on offensive launchers, now four years in its grave. Only the dismantling requirements of SALT I1have gone by the boards-. pity because their impact would have been exclusively on the Soviets. Even so, we may well see each side doing some dismantlement for its own reasons. Why is there life after death for SALT? This article proposes to examine why this has come to pass, and where we can go from here. Lloyd N. Cutler served as Special Counsel to the President from June to October 1979 to prepare the case for the SALT I1 Treaty before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In October 1979he became Counsel to the President. Roger Molander was a member of the National Security Council staff, specializing in SALT and other strategic issues, from June 1974 to January 1981. Znternational Security, Fall 1981 (Vol. 6,No.2)0162-2889/81/010003-18 $02.50/0 @ 1981 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 3 International Security I 4 How We Got Where We Are Of all the major issues before the United States, SALT is the most arcane. Most of us know what the acronym means. Many of us have strong views for or against the process and the agreements it has produced. But there are only a handful of Americans, in or out of government, who can remember or describe the basic terms of SALT I, SALT I1 and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. There are even fewer who remember or understand the negotiating history, the opportunities that were lost, and the solid accomplishments that were achieved. It may therefore be helpful, even to the informed readers of this journal, to begin with a brief history of the negotiations and a brief summary of what the agreements contain. SALT I After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States put forward the Baruch Plan. Under this plan, nuclear weapons would have been forsworn by all, and the American nuclear near-monopoly of the 1940s would have been shared with the world for peaceful uses under strict international control. But the rest of the world was not ready for this noble and unselfish proposal. Perhaps in the end, we would not have been either. Then came the turbulent 1950s and 1960s, with the loss of the American monopoly, the shock of Sputnik, and the birth of the intercontinental missile. Americans began to realize that we ourselves were becoming vulnerable, and that even the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere could do great harm to us all. Public understanding and political support for nuclear arms control grew rapidly. Within a year after the Cold War’s coldest moment-the Cuban missile crisis-President Kennedy was able to sign...