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Don't forget what SALT could do

One way of meeting the Soviet military challenge is to augment and modernize our strategic (and conventional) forces. Another is to challenge the Soviet Union to engage in negotiations about actual reductions in nuclear armaments, not just limitations. We advocate that these approaches be pursued concurrently.

It is ironic that the SALT debate has become (as Senator Moynihan recently remarked) a "debate on rearmament." The problem, unfortunately, is endemic to arms limitation talks in which the Soviet Union exhibits little interest in curbing the weapons race.

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There is no reason to believe that SALT III will offer any more meaningful opportunities. The United States entered the negotiations for SALT I with a pronounced superiority in strategic weapons and commenced the SALT II talks with a lesser but still significant advantage. The likelihood is that SALT III will begin with the Soviets expecting strategic supremacy by the end of those negotiations. In such circumstances, the promise of any real arms reductions is illusory.

Our best hope is to obtain agreement for a SALT III reduction in arms now,m while the United States still retains the power to forestall this shift in the strategic balance. If there are to be substantial weapons cutbacks in SALT III, the mandate for those cuts must be written into SALT II.

Toward this end, Senator Moynihan has proposed an amendment to the treaty that would add a new Paragraph 4 to Article XIX of the text:

"The Parties shall conclude, by December 31, 1981, an agreement which shall, as a result of the negotiations undertaken in accordance with the Joint Statement of Principles and guidelines for Subsequent Negotiations on the Limitation of Strategic Arms agreed upon at Vienna on June 18, 1979, effect significant and substantial reductions in the numbers of strategic offensive arms,m consistent with the requirement for the maintenance of essential strategic equivalence.m The agreement shall enter into effect immediately upon the expiration of the present Treaty or sooner, as the Parties shall decide.If the Parties are unable to conclude such an agreement by December 31, 1981, the present Treaty shall terminate on that date.m (Emphasis added.)"

Unlike some other proposals that have been made to force the pace of the SALT III negotiations, such an amendment would not require undoing the substantive terms of the present SALT II Treaty. A less demanding alternative that could still improve the chances for a "deep cut" SALT III agreement of the kind we seek would be to amend the resolution of ratification to include a set of explicit guidelines for the next round of negotiations. This list of objectives would operate similarly to the amendment to SALT I which required that future weapons limitations impose equal aggregate ceilings on both countries.

The SALT II treaty should be approved because it is a useful, if modest, step in the long- range process of controlling nuclear armaments. But if the SALT process itself is to be preserved, the time has come to face the real issues and the real prospects of substantial arms reductions.


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