Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), negotiations that began in November 1969 between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the regulation of the nuclear arms competition between the two nations. A wide range of weapons was discussed, and the talks resulted in two treaties and several less formal agreements.
The United States first approached the Soviet Union in 1964 to suggest bilateral arms-control talks. At that time the United States had a clear superiority in nuclear arms, but indications showed that the Soviet Union was developing weapons that could undermine the American posture. This, along with the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Communist China, created additional complications for US strategic planners. These two factors, along with an abiding American interest in arms control, led to a search for negotiated limits to the growth of the Soviet arsenal.
The negotiations known as SALT I began in November 1969 and ended in January 1972, with agreement on two documents: the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Both were signed on May 26, 1972. SALT II talks began in September 1972 and ended in January 1979.
The ABM Treaty
The ABM Treaty limited the numbers of allowed weapons and radars and regulated their composition and location, but allowed continued testing and development. Both signatories agreed to limit the placement of ABM systems within their own national territories, and both agreed not to build any systems other than the immobile land-based types then already developed or deployed. The signatories also agreed not to enter into any accord with third parties that would contravene the treaty. Verification was provided by "national technical means"-that is, the use of any detective technology commanded by either signatory-which were thus acknowledged as legitimate tools of intelligence under international law. The treaty also established a Standing Consultative Commission charged with monitoring violations and considering further arms-control proposals.
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