The SALT II Talks: The Decision-Making Mechanism in Action
After the Vladivostok Summit, the Five set about refining the Soviet position for the second set of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), which began in Geneva in November 1972. From the beginning of their efforts, they found themselves confronted with a number of complex issues that not only required expert work on their part but also necessitated major political decisions at the highest level of the Soviet leadership. One of the toughest problems related to differentiating between and accounting for MIRVed and non-MIRVed land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.
At the time, some of the individual Soviet heavy1 and so-called "light" ICBMs (the SS-19/RS-18 in particular) were not equipped with MIRVs and carried only one warhead each. The members of the Five did not agree with the American position that these "non-MIRVed" missiles should be included in the agreed levels for "MIRVed" strategic delivery vehicles, which the Vladivostok Agreement set at 1320 for each side. This issue became a stumbling block to success at the negotiations and remained so for some time.
To support its position, the Soviet Side argued--rather unconvincingly, as it soon became clear--that both sides' national technical means (NTM) of verification were fully capable of determining the type of warhead installed on a