The Nation: The ABCs of the Arms Controversy

You start with MIRVs, MARVs, SLBMs, ALCMs and ICBMs. Then add "counterforce," "mutual assured destruction" and "first-strike capability." All this is part of the mind-numbing, acronymic jargon used in the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (known for short as SALT). Although the vocabulary is impenetrable, except to think-tank experts, and the concepts are often Strangelovean, the complex SALT negotiations may yet turn out to be the most important of the century. Herewith a primer of key questions and answers.

What is the goal of the SALT talks?

Primarily, to prevent a nuclear war between...

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