Bilateral and Multilateral Nuclear Arms Reductions (Start/Global Disarmament)

Authored by: Steven Pifer

Routledge Handbook of Nuclear Proliferation and Policy

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415870399
eBook ISBN: 9780203709528
Adobe ISBN: 9781136012488


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Bilateral negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union, and after 1991 Russia, to regulate nuclear arms levels by treaty date back to the late 1960s. Early efforts at arms control focused on limiting the number of strategic delivery vehicles – first, strategic ballistic missile launchers and then strategic bombers – through the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) process. Both countries later deployed multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles on strategic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles on strategic bombers to dramatically increase their warhead levels, even with a limited number of strategic delivery vehicles. Warhead levels peaked in the late 1980s, when each side maintained some 8,000–10,000 strategic nuclear weapons on more than 2,000 delivery systems.

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