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What was the Salt II Treaty?

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Quick Answer

The SALT II treaty was the result of the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks undertaken by the United States and the Soviet Union in an effort to manage the nuclear arms buildup. It was signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in June of 1979 and limited each nation to 2,250 delivery vehicles in their nuclear arsenals.

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Full Answer

The SALT II negotiations began in 1972 and spanned the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. The talks came on the heels of the success of SALT I, which primarily resulted in the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty during the 1972 Moscow Summit. However, SALT I didn't do anything to prevent the nations from using Multiple Independently Targeted Re-Entry Vehicles, or MIRVs, on their missiles, so limiting the use of MIRVs became the initial focus of SALT II.

In addition to setting limits on nuclear forces, the SALT II Treaty also included measures to forestall any breakthroughs that might destabilize the delicate balance between the two superpowers. For example, it banned new missile programs, forcing each side had to limit the development of new missile types.

Despite the signing of the SALT II agreement, the United States decided not to ratify the treaty after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979 and ultimately withdrew from SALT II completely in 1986.

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