Anti–Ballistic Missile Treaty


On May 26, 1972, U.S. president Richard Nixon and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev signed the Anti–Ballistic Missile Treaty in Moscow. Signing followed a series of discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union over the course of several years, beginning in 1969. The acronym SALT refers to this round of “strategic arms-limitation talks” with the purpose of controlling nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race between the two nations at a time when each nation had the weapons to destroy the other many times over. SALT I is the term used to distinguish the talks from a further round of talks, SALT II, that culminated in an arms-limitation treaty in 1979.

In the late 1960s, U.S. nuclear forces had more than twice the megatonnage of the Soviets and some five times the number of warheads, although the Soviets were beginning to catch up. SALT I limited the numbers on both sides. But a major issue remained: anti–ballistic missile (ABM) systems. The problem was that an...

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Richard M. Nixon (Library of Congress)

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