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President Reagan has decided to dismantle two nuclear submarines to keep the United States within the limits of the SALT II treaty, a US offi- cial said Monday.

The official, who demanded anonymity, said the two Poseidon subma- rines, with 16 multiple-warhead missiles each, would be taken out of the fleet promptly and then destroyed over the next six months.

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The Trident submarine USS Nevada, with 24 missiles, is due to begin sea trials May 20. The US would exceed the ceiling of 1,200 missiles with multiple warheads set by the 1979 US-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) unless older missiles were destroyed.

The decision was described as ``tentative,'' in the sense that Mr. Reagan was sending two envoys to consult with allies in Asia and West- ern Europe before making a formal announcement.

Edward L. Rowny, a senior adviser, left Sunday for Tokyo to meet with leaders there. He will go on to South Korea, China, and Canada. Paul H. Nitze, meanwhile, is leaving for London. After seeing British offi- cials, he plans stops in West Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, and Hol- land. He will brief the NATO Council in Brussels.

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