Taking missiles out of Poseidons

When it comes to verifying compliance with the SALT II Treaty, a picture is ``worth a thousand words.'' If the US deactivates two Poseidon nuclear missile submarines, as expected, the Soviets will undoubtedly monitor the proceedings using photographic spy satellites.

Article VI of the SALT II treaty provides that strategic missiles and launch platforms must be included as part of a nation's weapons inventory until such time as they are dismantled, destroyed, or in some fashion clearly rendered incapable of performing a strategic mission.

For US Poseidon submarines, the process could start with removal of the missiles and keeping the missile-tube doors open for several days in clear weather to allow the Soviets adequate observation opportunity.

The missile tubes could then be filled with cement, as was reportedly done with at least two Polaris submarines in 1980. Another alternative would be to remove the tubes, again under an open sky. At this point, the submarines may be dismantled and turned into scrap or modified for another purpose -- as long as the new configuration makes it obvious to the Soviets that they are incapable of launching ballistic missiles.

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