The case for proceeding directly to SALT III

The idea of moving directly to SALT III has been discussed among a number of arms control experts for some time. We are convinced it is the only way to preserve the arms control process. President Carter's SALT II treaty contains fatal flaws, making it impossible to proceed from it to an equitable and verifiable SALT III. Therefore, approval of SALT II would not be a step forward in the arms control process. Rather, it would be a step which would either lead to a dead end in arms control or force us to compromise the security of the United States.

Approving SALT II in its present form would create serious problems for SALT III because of the existence of the protocol, due to expire at the end of 1981 .This protocol limits cruise missiles which are necessary for NATO's security. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and our allies were opposed to the inclusion of the protocol in SALT II. The Carter administration has said that the protocol will be permitted to expire without allowing it to become a precedent for future arms control agreements. The Soviets, however, have stated just the opposite. They have insisted that the protocol must be a precedent for future agreements. Unfortunately, because we have no negotiating leverage, the Soviet view may well prevail. If SALT II is approved in its present form, the protocol would become an albatross around our necks, undermine NATO security, and lessen the chances for obtaining a good SALT III.

The Carter administration introduced SALT into the presidential campaign because most people in the United States favor a SALT agreement. However, once these same people learn that Mr. Carter's treaty is unequal and excludes critical Soviet systems like the intercontinentally capable Backfire bomber they see the differences between favoring am SALT agreement and favoring thism one.

There is not much danger that SALT II in its present form will be approved by the US Senate. Even before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and President Carter shelved the treaty, it lacked the necessary votes to assure its passage. As the senators probed SALT II and came to understand its provisions, more and more of them turned against the treaty. The Armed Services Committee of a Democratic-controlled Senate reported (by a 10-to-0 vote, with 7 abstentions) that: "After extensive examination of the military implications of the treaty the committee concludes that the SALT II Treaty, as it now stands, is not in the national security interests of the United States of America. . . . We believe that major changes to the treaty are essential if the treaty is to serve our national security and be in the interests of the common defense policy."

In fact, the chances for a viable SALT II treaty were killed much earlier by the Carter administration. By cutting the military budget and by abandoning or postponing the strategic programs of the Ford administration, the Carter White House denied US negotiators the leverage we needed to conclude an acceptable treaty. Moreover, in its zeal to conclude an agreement, the Carter administration made many unnecessary concessions resulting in this treaty which is fatally flawed. It is true, as Mr. Carter says, that SALT II was negotiated by three presidents. But it is also true that only the last of these three, President Carter himself, took away our negotiating leverage, made the crucial concessions, and in the end put his signature to a treaty which the Democratic-controlled Senate could not bring itself to approve.

President Carter now wants the Senate to ratify his SALT treaty regardless of what the Soviets do in Afghanistan. Yet, just recently he said we would only be ready to consider its ratification when we see positive movements by the Soviets to withdraw their occupying forces from Afghanistan. Apparently the Soviets have again called President Carter's bluff as in the case of Soviet combat brigade in Cuba, which Mr. Carter first called "unacceptable" and then accepted. The vacillation of President Carter in the face of Soviet obstinance is a continuation of the same kind of activity which led to concessions to the Soviets in SALT II. This is no way to deal with a formidable adversary.

The SALT II treaty violates the basic principle of equality which should be the basis for any agreement into which we enter. In its present form, SALT II does not permit strategic parity or enhance our security. Approval of this treaty would codify US strategic inferiority and make it virtually impossible to proceed to a good SALT III. Mr. Carter has given us a treaty which has virtually no chance of being approved by the Senate. He removed all incentives for the Soviets to negotiate seriously toward an equal treaty which the Senate could accept.

The best way to continue arms control is to proceed on a double track: (1) to build a bipartisan consensus for a sound defense program; and, (2) to press ahead for a treaty which the Senate could support. This would best serve the interests of peace by restoring the strength needed to assure deterrence and provide for stability in crises. It would also be the best way to proceed toward a balanced and equitable SALT agreement.

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