SALT and the Classic Era of Arms Control

11.10.10 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that led to the signing of the SALT I Treaty in 1972 were documented in exhaustive detail in the latest volume of the official State Department publication Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS).

The new FRUS volume (pdf), which is more than 1000 pages long, covers internal deliberations over U.S. arms control policy and strategy in the Nixon Administration, and the development, refinement, negotiation and ultimate approval of the SALT I Treaty.

“You cannot put large missiles into small holes,” said Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev “very irritably,” according to the transcript of a May 23, 1972 discussion on possible modification of existing missile silos.  “It is more complicated than that,” responded national security advisor Henry Kissinger.

Declassification review of this FRUS volume began in 2004 and was completed in 2010. It resulted in the withholding of 1 document in full, excisions of a paragraph or more in 9 documents, and excisions of less than a paragraph in 60 documents, as noted in the Preface.