Paul C. Warnke, Arms Control Negotiatior, Dies at 81

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PAUL C. WARNKE, a leading advocate of arms control and a longtime director of the Arms Control Association, died of a pulmonary embolism October 31 at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 81. Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., former ACA president, said, "With his passing, arms control lost one of its great voices."

Warnke's most notable contribution to arms control was his service as chief U.S. negotiator to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union. Nominated in 1976 to head the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) by President-elect Jimmy Carter, Warnke led the U.S. delegation to the SALT II negotiations, which aimed to replace the SALT I Interim Agreement with a more permanent treaty to cap the number of U.S. and Soviet strategic weapons and lay the groundwork for eventual reductions. President Carter and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed SALT II in 1979.

Although Warnke played a key role in bringing the treaty into being, he resigned as head of ACDA in October 1978, before SALT II was signed, under pressure from defense conservatives who claimed he was too soft on the Soviets. His detractors cited a 1975 article that Warnke had published in Foreign Policy titled "Apes on a Treadmill," which criticized the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. In the article, Warnke argued that both sides should cease building new nuclear weaponry and reduce stockpiles, and he proposed that Washington negotiate with Moscow to encourage "reciprocal restraint." "We can be the first off the treadmill," he wrote. "That's the only victory the arms race has to offer."

The United States never ratified SALT II, but the United States and the Soviet Union both committed to observing its limits anyway. …