The delay in determining the timing and substance of SALT`s announcement complicated the White House`s plans to shape understanding of the deal within the administration and Congress, the media, and the public. While waiting for the Soviets to react, Nixon and Kissinger sometimes expressed the opinion that SALT was too esoteric to gain much political traction and questioned the intrinsic value of arms control. But as Nixon noted, ”In terms of public relations, we can use something like that at this point. I wouldn`t go wrong for PR reasons, but I don`t want to ride. (Conversation 487-021, Extract A from PERD). In an interview with Deputy National Security Advisor Alexander M. Haig Jr. On how foreign policy successes can be used to win important congressional votes, Nixon suggested that progress toward a settlement in Vietnam, a U.S.-Soviet summit, and openness to China could offer greater political value than a SALT deal (Conversation 493-010, EXTRACT A of PERD). But Nixon later told Haldeman that he had deliberately downplayed the importance of SALT in his discussion with Haig, admitting that ”the SALT thing is extremely important” (Conversation 493-015).
”Kissinger is completely wrong, and Haig is half wrong.. SALT will have an infernal effect on this city” (conversation 494-004). The agreement empowered the parties to terminate the contract with six months` notice if they decided that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the contract had jeopardized their best interests. In its Unilateral Declaration A, the United States noted that if an agreement providing for more comprehensive restrictions on strategic offensive weapons was not reached within five years, the highest interests of the United States could be jeopardized, providing a basis for withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. However, after the resumption of SALT negotiations in Vienna, Kissinger Nixon reported that the Soviet delegation had taken the position that both sides would not move to a temporary offensive freeze until an ABM agreement had been fully negotiated; The two agreements could then be concluded together. For Kissinger, this was an obvious trick to decouple the two agreements, as opposed to the May 20 approach (conversation 504-002, PRDE extract A). He divided Nixon on September 27. May said he had put dobrynin under strong pressure on this point and had instructed US Ambassador Kenneth Rush to extend the four-power talks on Berlin in order to strengthen the US negotiating position on SALT (Conversation 504-013). Even with the Soviets, it was never easy. After the president`s announcement on May 20, Kissinger told Nixon that the Russian translation differed from the American text; He used the word ”contract” instead of ”agreement.” Kissinger said he immediately challenged Dobrynin, who agreed to issue a press release authenticating the English text. Kissinger was also unhappy with an article in Moscow`s Associated Press, reporting that there would be a two-step process: first, an ABM deal, and second, offensive restrictions.
Kissinger feared that the Soviets would try to influence public expectations, contrary to their previous agreement to bind offensive and defensive agreements. However, he and Nixon expressed confidence that the Soviets would not back down at that time as long as the United States maintained its position (Conversation 502-014). The White House talks from February to April 1971 give an idea of the relationship that Nixon and Kissinger perceived between SALT and various critical foreign policy issues. The most obvious diplomatic link was the ongoing talks in Berlin with the four powers, which aimed to clarify Berlin`s status and the rights and duties of the nations that took control of the city after World War II (the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France). Kissinger`s working hypothesis was that Moscow`s fear of reaching an agreement on Berlin gave the Nixon administration leverage over the Kremlin on arms control. Kissinger was willing to delay the Berlin talks, although U.S. blocking tactics could topple the government of Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt or at least complicate Brandt`s domestic political situation (Talk 489-017, PERD A excerpt). The SALT Agreement and the ABM Treaty, negotiated in a context of serious tensions, were the first restrictions on the massive strategic offensive weapons of the superpowers, as well as on their emerging strategic defense systems. The SALT agreement and the ABM treaty slowed the arms race and opened a period of US-Soviet détente that reduced the risk of nuclear war. Intensive research has been undertaken to find ways to examine possible agreements without the need for access to the territory of the other party.
Both the ABM Treaty and the Interim Agreement stipulate that compliance must be achieved by ”national technical means of verification”. In addition, the agreements contain provisions that are important steps to strengthen security against violations: both parties undertake not to interfere with national technical means of verification. In addition, both countries undertake not to use deliberate obfuscation measures to obstruct the review. It was the first agreement between the United States and the USSR to set limits and restrictions on their nuclear weapons systems. Nixon was also obsessed with the need to ensure that he, and not the State Department or the SALT delegation, received personal recognition for a SALT deal. He feared that Rogers and Smith, supported by the liberal media and the Soviets, would deprive him of the strategic and political advantages of being seen as the driving force behind a gun deal (Conversation 451-004). Nixon sought to maximize political advantages, present himself as a peace-loving statesman, and disarm his critics, such as the likely presidential candidate Edmund S. Muskie [D-Maine], who had claimed that the SALT negotiations were going nowhere. Nixon often referred to the political capital that President John F. Kennedy had achieved strategic importance through the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets, although he and Kissinger denigrated its strategic importance (Conversation 468-005, PERD Excerpt A; see also Conversation 494-004). When President Nixon entered the White House in January 1969, he and his top foreign policy adviser, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger, began to integrate possible strategic arms control options into a broad-based détente strategy.
Détente represented an evolutionary stage in the American containment strategy of communism and was a somewhat nebulous phenomenon throughout the period; None of Nixon`s recordings on SALT refer to the term ”relaxation.” The concept of nixon-Kissinger détente meant negotiating spheres of stability with the Soviets (and the Chinese). The Nixon White House saw SALT as a tactical ingredient of this strategy, not an end in itself. The immediate objective of arms control is to stabilize the nuclear balance and remove incentives for continued competition in the field of strategic weapons. But the ultimate goal of SALT, as well as other agreements with the Soviet Union, was to give Soviet leaders a compelling interest in a peaceful superpower relationship. This would encourage the Kremlin to refrain from global adventurism and the exploitation of nationalist movements, which threatened to undermine the overall balance of power and exacerbate the confrontation and conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Through diplomatic channels in Washington and Moscow, talks with Soviet representatives at the ENDC, and exchanges at the highest level of the two governments, the United States continued to push for a Soviet commitment to discuss strategic arms limits. But it was not until the following year that evidence of a Soviet reassessment of their position emerged. On July 1, 1968, at the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, President Johnson announced that an agreement had been reached with the Soviet Union to begin talks on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapon delivery systems and ballistic missile defence. The date and venue of the talks had not yet been announced when the Soviet Union began its invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, an event that postponed the talks indefinitely. After the cabinet meeting, Nixon and Smith met with a group of lawmakers. Prior to this meeting, Kissinger warned Nixon against using the word ”freeze” in his description of the Interim Agreement on Offensive Forces, as it appears to reflect an earlier proposal by Senator Hubert H.
Humphrey [D-Minnesota] (Talk 501-029). After the lawmakers` meeting, Nixon told Kissinger and Haldeman that Smith had done well to inform the leaders. .