Strategic Arms Limitation Talks I

William Brown
May 14, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017

Those Involved

Fig. 1: Ledonid Brezhnev, former Premiere of the Soviet Union, and Richard Nixon, former President of the United States, conferring on 19 Jun 73, one year after they signed the Salt I treaty. (Source: Wikimedia Commons

The first Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, also known as SALT, took place between the United States of America and the Soviet Union between 1969 and 1972, in middle of the Cold War. [1] Each side wanted to limit the nuclear arsenals of the other; both sides felt that building nuclear weapons was a waste of resources and unnecessarily dangerous. The treaty resulting from these discussions, SALT I, was signed by both sides, Nixon for the United States and Brezhnev from the Soviet Union (See Fig. 1) in 1972.

Conclusion of SALT I

The SALT I talks had many different aspects but there are a key ones. It acknowledged that both sides had become a serious threat in regards to nuclear arms. It even implied that the Soviet's were better in some aspects than the United States. [1] In Article 1 of the SALT I treaty, the Parties agreed not to start construction of any more intercontinental ballistic missile after July 1, 1972. [2] In Article III of the SALT treaty they agreed to limit the number of submarine launched ballistic missiles. [2]

After the Agreement

While SALT I was a step forward for communication between the both sides, there were many issues that the agreement neglected to resolve. These required a second round of talks to continue the discussions, which lasted much longer. [3] The United States Congress also had problems with the SALT I agreements. In particular, several members of Congress did not trust National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger's judgment when it came to the weapon tradeoffs in SALT I. [1] Weapon tradeoff means that one side was superior in one aspect while the other side was superior in another. Because of this problem, the second round of talks after 1972 lasted much longer than the first.

© William Brown. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. L. Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History. 1st Ed. (Penguin Books, 2005).

[2] "Interim Agreement Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Certain Measures with Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms," in United States Treaties and Other International Obligations, 23 UST 3462, T.I.A.S. 7504, and Department of State Bulletin 26, 920 (1972).

[3] G. Krishnamurthi, "Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)," Physics 241, Stanford University, Winter 2015.