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Cold War Disarmament Talks Essay

2090 words - 9 pages

Cold War Disarmament Talks

Impact of Disarmament Talks on Cold War Tensions from 1963 to 1991
Disarmament talks between the two powers during the period of 1963 to 1991 improved the relationship between Soviet Union and United States by providing the necessary spirit of cooperation. The two most significant examples of arms control talks positively impacting the superpower relationship are the SALT I and INF treaties. Negotiations for SALT I played a part in bringing the two countries from the nuclear 'brinkmanship' of the Cuban missile crisis to détente. Gorbachev realising the importance of arms control in mutual political accommodation, initiated INF. INF and NST alleviated secrecy ...view middle of the document...

However these agreements came into being due to the fear brought on by the Cuban missile crisis and did little dissuade tensions that were part of a period of 'oscillatory antagonism'.

The Vietnam War, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Arab-Israeli War tested the relationship between the superpowers during 1967 and 68. In the background of such cold war tension the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed. This treaty asked for nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers to help limit the spreading of nuclear weapons. The Outer Space Treaty, which limited the use of space for military purposes, was also signed by USA, USSR and sixty other nations. It was also during this period that a series of conferences were initiated for the purposes of constructing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I).

After 1968 the relationship between the two superpowers improved and the United States and Soviet Union were able to hold preliminary talks in November of 1969 at Helsinki to discuss limitations on strategic nuclear offensive weapons and anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. In December they reached an agreement to begin the SALT talks in 1970 (Vienna).

In May 1972 Nixon and Brezhnev formally sanctioned SALT I, which consisted of two basic documents: 1) the ABM Treaty limiting strategic ABM defense systems. And 2) the Interim Agreement limiting strategic offensive weapons limiting the number of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers (both ICBMs and SLBMs) at existing levels (1,710 for the United States and 2,347 for the Soviet Union).

In addition to these two documents the treaty also limited each side's total missile production and spending on ABM systems. The treaty was made simultaneously with two other treaties, which were:

? The Nuclear Accident Agreement (September 1971), which limited the risks of accidental war by requiring from the signatories "A pledge to maintain and improve safeguards against the accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons. Immediate notification should a risk of nuclear war arise from the detection of unidentified objects or any other unexplained incident involving a possible detonation of a nuclear weapon. And advance notice of any planned missile launches beyond the territory of the launching party and in the direction of the other party."

? And the Sea Bed Treaty (1972), which banned any nuclear activity on the sea floor outside territorial waters.

These treaties entailed positive progress towards wide ranging disarmament agreements and to further the work of SALT I, Ford and Brezhnev agreed to the outline of SALT II. Another major factor was that these treaties were built upon 'positive incentives' and not a policy of containment, and this was recognised as being important for permanent improvement in relationships between United States and Soviet Union. Disarmament talks and agreements encouraged détente and usually had a positive...

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