Arms Control and Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Policies and the National Interest

By W. Gray Nichols; Milton L. Boykin | Go to book overview

13

Conclusion

W. Gary Nichols and Milton L. Boykin

When The Citadel Symposium on Arms Control and Nuclear Weapons took place in February 1985, the nuclear weapons race between the Soviet Union and the United States seemed effectively out of control. In Geneva and Vienna, talks aimed at resolving at least some of the aspects of the competition had floundered and prospects for positive achievements appeared bleak. A subsequent summit meeting in Geneva failed to produce any significant changes, and stepped-up efforts on both sides to achieve technological advantages over the other further diminished hopes for an agreement to limit their ominous competition.

On the one hand, the essays in this volume clearly reflect these unpromising conditions. On the other hand, they propose general and more specific actions which could end the nuclear arms race, prevent the proliferation of these weapons, and reduce steadily the enormous numbers of them on both sides. General George Seignious believes that the asymmetrical nature of each of the two powers' nuclear forces has made comparisons of strength difficult. As a result, he says, each side feels less secure and more eager to strenghten its advantages vis-a-vis the other, thereby intensifying the dangerous asymmetrical relationship between their nuclear forces. Professor Larry Addington makes much the same points, emphasizing, as does Seignious, the contrasting need for symmetry and balance of forces from which the two powers could begin reciprocal and equitable reductions. A major figure in the SALT II Accords, Seignious asserts that the great value of the agreement lay not only in limiting the number of weapons and warheads on each side, but also in establishing this same equitable and symmetrical balance between the nuclear force structures of both sides. Most unfortunately, as he recounts, domestic political issues wrecked ratification of the agreement in the Senate and created at best a fractured framework for future negotiations. Nevertheless, Seignious and Addington clearly show that we must begin with a symmetry and balance of nuclear forces, and remain

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