17. "SALT: The End of Arms Control"
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 signed, in 1972, the Trident submarine and Trident-1 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
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
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.