PROSPECTS FOR ARMS CONTROL

The central fact today in the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union is that progress in technology has made it both necessary and possible to place restraints on the nuclear arms race. The technological stars and planets are now in favorable conjunction, so to speak-and they will not stay that way for long.

In considering the strategic situation in which we find ourselves, it may be useful to recall briefly some of the ways in which we got where we are. In 1961, the Soviets had a small number of ICBMs. We in the United States did not know whether they planned to keep things that way or to deploy a greater number; so we went ahead on the assumption that they would deploy a greater number. We undertook a very sizeable build-up of Minutemen and Polaris forces. We thus ended up with a considerably larger arsenal of missiles and warheads than we actually required. But then the Soviets also began an extensive deployment-probably in response to our efforts-and so they have been catching up in ICBMs, and have begun to build up their force of Polaris-type missile submarines.

Today we still have a considerably larger number of deliverable nuclear warheads than they have; but either side, experts agree, could probably inflict 100 million casualties on the other, even after absorbing a first strike. This mutual balance of deterrence is perhaps not the happiest situation one might imagine, but it has afforded a certain stability thus far.

Another factor in today's equation is the design of our weapons. On the whole, the strategic arsenals of both sides have in recent years become increasingly invulnerable, nonprovocative, geared to a second strike. Their design has thus tended to minimize factors which could give either side an incentive to strike first. Needless to say, this has considerably enhanced the stability of the situation.

However, several of the weapons systems now being contemplated for deployment in the next few years could increase the risk of war by enhancing the temptation to strike first during a crisis situation.

The Soviets, for example, have been testing a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS). This weapon differs from a "normal" ICBM chiefly in that it travels at a lower altitude and can take a longer and supposedly less detectable route to its target, via the Southern Hemisphere. Because the FOBS is likely to have a smaller payload and less accuracy than a corresponding ICBM, it will not materially strengthen the Soviet Union's second-strike capability. Its main purpose would appear to be for use in a surprise first strike against soft targets, such as strategic bomber airfields. Thus, a large-scale FOBS deployment would clearly be in violation of a fundamental "rule," which has been tacitly observed in recent years, against the development of weapons which might appear to increase directly the incentive to strike first.

Another weapons system that would be inconsistent with that fundamental rule is a large-scale Ballistic Missile Defense system (BMD). A BMD system, if presumed to be effective by its possessor, might incline him to calculate that he could launch a massive counter-force strike against enemy land-based strategic forces and then defend himself against unacceptable losses from the enemy's retaliatory attack.

Thus a large-scale BMD, by permitting its possessor to perceive an enhanced potential for a first strike, could increase his incentive to strike first in a crisis situation. At the same time a power confronting an adversary with a large-scale BMD might in a crisis situation feel impelled to strike first because a sudden, massive first strike with unimpaired offensive forces would have a better chance of penetrating missile defenses than would a retaliatory strike with a partially destroyed offensive force.

The MIRV or Multiple Individually-Targeted Re-Entry Vehicle, which makes it possible for a missile to deliver separate warheads to several widely separated targets, is another complicating development in nuclear technology. If, in addition to possessing large-scale BMD systems, both sides also possessed large-scale MIRV systems-such as the United States and presumably the Soviets have been developing-there could be an additional incentive to strike first in a crisis situation. The rationale for this is simple enough. Suppose, for example, that a large portion of each side's ICBM force had, let us say, 5 MIRV warheads in each missile. Then the side which strikes first could hope, at least in theory, to destroy up to 25 enemy warheads (in 5 enemy missiles) with each of its attacking missiles. Clearly, this could be viewed as a reason for wishing to strike first.

In all of these examples, the unfortunate thing is that even if we considered the new threats to be imagined rather than real, or possible rather than sure, we still could not dismiss them; for we must also take into account how the other side might react in a crisis. Then, too, there is the obvious corollary to a first-strike incentive: the side which feels that the other may have an incentive to strike first automatically has an incentive to do so itself-that is, to preëmpt.

These are some of the reasons which argue in favor of negotiating in the context of the present strategic confrontation, rather than waiting for the arms race to move up another step or two. And there is yet another consideration which should be mentioned: we are in the relatively fortunate position at the present time where each side has fairly complete information on the size and capabilities of its adversary's strategic forces. Thus the implications of an agreement not to increase such forces on either side would now be relatively simple to calculate.

If either or both sides were to deploy new advanced weapons systems, however, the new uncertainties added to the equation would make the negotiation of an agreement more complicated and difficult. The deployment of extensive ballistic missile defenses by either side, for example, would raise apprehensions on the other side as to the adequacy of its offensive forces to penetrate such defenses so as to maintain deterrence.

Another example: Although the fixed land-based missiles now deployed are relatively easy to detect, if mobile land-based missiles were deployed, an agreement fixing their number would be difficult to verify even with highly intrusive inspections, such as the Soviets have always rejected. Similarly, it would be difficult if not impossible to differentiate between single- warhead missiles and MIRVs without close and intrusive inspection. Thus it is important that we try to negotiate a halt in the strategic arms race before the task becomes far more difficult than it is now.

II

Our strategic confrontation with the Soviet Union, together with the prospect of negotiations, has given rise to what appears, at least on the surface, to be a kind of polarization into two schools of thought-one maintaining that we should negotiate only from a position of strategic "superiority;" the other maintaining that negotiations can take place only in a condition of "parity," since the other side would certainly be unwilling to negotiate from a position of inferiority.

This so-called controversy is a great oversimplification of the issue, in addition to resembling somewhat an obscure theological discussion. It is difficult to imagine what strategic posture we could assume which could change the basic technological facts with which we have to contend. The United States has more deliverable warheads than the Soviets have; and most people would doubtless describe this as "superiority." On the other hand, the Soviets presumably consider that they also have "superiority" in some areas which they think important. It seems doubtful, in any case, that they would be willing to negotiate if they were not satisfied that they had an adequate deterrent capability.

But whatever index of strategic nuclear power is used, it would seem rather fruitless for either side to claim superiority when, no matter what it does, the other side will still have the capability to inflict unacceptable retaliatory damage. It would seem equally futile to seek a degree of superiority in an attempt to neutralize the adversary's retaliatory capability when he will surely seek to counter each increment in our strategic capability. Paying close attention to the meaning of words, therefore, it is encouraging that President Nixon has adopted the word "sufficiency" of weaponry to describe the requirements of deterrence. In the absence of an effective curb on arms growth on both sides, we will have to continue to build weapons in order to insure that we maintain a "sufficiency." If, however, we can persuade the other side to halt with us at a level of "mutual sufficiency"-seemingly the only basis on which an arms agreement can be reached-it would be folly for us both to continue to add arms merely to maintain the presumed balance at ever higher levels.

While a mutually acceptable U.S.-Soviet agreement to limit the strategic arms race will not be easy to achieve, clearly it should be technically possible. We have made very extensive studies and other preparations for the strategic talks. It may not be possible, in the beginning, to achieve as comprehensive-and thus as complicated-limitations on weapons systems as were envisioned in the so-called "Freeze" proposal which the United States advanced in 1964. It will probably be necessary to move step-by-step, starting with the more essential elements and moving from these to other elements in national strategic arsenals. But this may also be the best way to proceed, for one of the things we have learned after many years in arms- control negotiations is that one of the worst enemies of progress is the tendency to seek overly complex solutions.

In considering any arms-control proposal, it is necessary to assure that the associated verification system is adequate to protect U.S. national security interests. Such verification capabilities may be provided by so- called "national means" alone-i.e. means which do not involve agreed physical access to another state's territory-or by national means in combination with some direct inspection. Obviously, the scope of the proposed arms-control agreement would depend in some degree upon the extent to which we could rely on our "national means" or could obtain any necessary additional assurance in the form of direct inspections. While it can be stated as a general rule that the really comprehensive agreements which one might envision would necessitate direct inspections, our verification capabilities using "national means" alone are considerably greater than it has been possible, so far, to reveal.

At the same time, it may be useful to recall that it has been the policy of the United States to undertake arms-control agreements only as fast as this could be done without adversely affecting national security. Reliance has not been placed on trust. Indeed, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was established in order to promote national security. Its enabling legislation states that the "formulation and implementation of United States arms control and disarmament policy in a manner which will promote the national security can best be insured by a central organization charged by statute with primary responsibility for this field." ACDA's role in promoting national security was referred to in the following terms by President Nixon in an address delivered last October 26: "Our Department of Defense and our Arms Control and Disarmament Agency share the same objective-the enhancement of our national security. Their perspectives, while different, are complementary." Proceeding from the basic approach outlined in its enabling legislation, the Agency discusses all arms-control proposals-before submitting them to the President-with the Committee of Principals, consisting of the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of ACDA, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, as appropriate, six other top-level officials concerned with national security; and it is only with direct Presidential approval that the proposals are carried into international negotiations. The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency also benefits from the advice of a group of our country's leading citizens-members of its General Advisory Committee-who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In addition, of course, there are frequent consultations with committees and individual members of the Congress.

In the final analysis, the decision whether to negotiate a given arms- control agreement boils down to weighing the risks of undertaking it against the risks of not undertaking it. And as in other cases, this applies to the projected bilateral strategic arms discussions with the Soviets.

While considerations of national security naturally require first emphasis as reasons for wishing to halt the arms race, the picture is not complete unless one also considers its economic aspect. There are estimates, for example, that a large anti-Soviet BMD system, a new air-defense system, a fleet of new manned bombers and new land- and sea-based missile systems-all of which have been suggested-would cost in the next decade more than $100 billion over current spending levels. We all know from experience, moreover, that when long-term projects are undertaken for the development and deployment of sophisticated weapons systems, the final figure is apt to bear little resemblance to the first estimate. To cite one example: In 1960, Air Force officials estimated the costs to develop and produce a force of ICBMs at $3.3 million per missile. But by the time deployment of the first generation of ICBMs (Minuteman I) was completed in mid-1965, the cost had jumped to almost $8.75 million per missile. Consider also the case of the so-called "thin" BMD system. Somewhat over a year ago the Defense Department estimated that the investment cost of the Sentinel BMD system would be $5 billion. Current Army estimates are already 10 percent over that, or $5.5 billion. By the time further expenses for research and development during deployment are added, together with operations and maintenance costs of one kind and another, the bill for this same Sentinel system over the next ten years is likely to be $10 billion or more. This is in addition to the almost $4 billion already spent on research and development. (Ten billion dollars, incidentally, would pay for about 600 thousand housing units.)

Technical and economic factors thus appear not only to argue strongly in favor of arms-control negotiations with the Soviet Union, but also to augur rather well for their success, since those factors are likely to affect Soviet policy considerations as well as our own. Needless to say, however, there are many political and human factors which have to be taken into account.

III

Soviet foreign and domestic policies during the past half-century have frequently left Western observers in a state of shock and dismay. And yet, it is the Soviet Government in the first instance with which we must do business.

Of course, the Soviet Union has not been spared from the influence of those conflicting forces operating to bring about change in all areas of the world. In recent times there have been some reforms, opening chinks in that closed Soviet society which was created over the years at such cost in manpower, human dignity and international prestige. And today, as never before, there are outspoken liberal-minded men and women in the Soviet Union whose dedication to the improvement of their society would do honor to any country. At the same time, the brutal Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia serves as evidence that change, while inevitable in the long run, can be delayed by government leaders concerned to preserve their power base. And while there is a school of thought which believes that the suppression of Czechoslovakia will of itself precipitate a liberalization in the Soviet Union which otherwise might have taken another generation or so, it might also have the opposite effect. Indeed, it would seem realistic to assume that, if only for internal reasons, the Soviet Government will maintain an extremely tight rein over its people and retain an antagonistic and distrustful attitude toward the United States for a long time to come.

Despite the many divergent interests of the United States and the Soviet Union, however, there appears to be no question that the Soviets have come to see that we do have a considerable ground of common interest in arms control. There is nothing altruistic in their approach to these matters: their willingness to discuss arms control has been forced upon them by the strategic, technological and economic facts of life. For those who would like to think in terms of a longer and more optimistic perspective, however, it should be pointed out that arms control can also be a major road toward the kinds of changes we would like to see in the Soviet Union. International exchanges and agreements with the Soviet Union-while they may exacerbate the fears of orthodox elements and thus even have a negative effect in the short run-tend undoubtedly over the long run to strengthen the hand of the more pragmatic and open-minded elements. And arms control is perhaps the field in which we can make the strongest appeal to these latter-because of the dangers and costs involved in the arms race, and because of the resultant dramatic nature of substantive arms-control agreements. As an additional favorable augury, we have encountered over the past few years an increasingly sophisticated knowledge of arms control among Soviet negotiators.

Many people have the impression that dealing with the Soviets is like dealing with creatures from another planet. That has not been the experience of this observer. On the whole they have shown much the same personal reactions as Westerners. Moreover, they respect candor about basic conditions which cannot be waived in a negotiation-just as they respect those who keep their confidences. Their long tradition of secrecy makes it difficult for them to express their true thoughts early in the game, and negotiating with them is correspondingly difficult and slow. But if the negotiator is sure of his ground and can show clearly that there are sufficient elements of mutual interest, it is possible ultimately to reach agreement with them.

On the American side, there is of course a considerable mistrust of the Soviet Union; and it is therefore all the more essential that we base our arms-control proposals not on trust but on adequate verification. Moreover, there are strong pressures on our Government to deploy new weapons systems as soon as it becomes technologically feasible to do so. On the other hand there have been quite positive developments which augur well for public support of arms-control negotiations. To begin with, since last July-when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was opened for signature, and when President Johnson first announced the Soviet expression of willingness to hold strategic arms-limitation talks-there has been a marked upsurge of public interest in arms control. Opinion surveys have indicated, moreover, that not even the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, with all its negative effects on international relations, has dampened this interest and support for arms-control negotiations. With few exceptions, American editorial opinion similarly has continued to show strong support both for ratification of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and for the strategic missile talks. It should be noted that international opinion, also, has continued to urge that the missile talks begin. This was reflected in the overwhelming vote for a U.N. resolution to this effect during the last session of the General Assembly. The tally was a resounding 97-0, with 5 abstentions.

Perhaps the greatest asset which the United States has enjoyed in the arms- control field has been an essentially bipartisan approach to the subject. All American administrations, Republican and Democratic, since the Second World War have made significant contributions to arms control. Historians may say that there have been certain inconsistencies in our policies, or that at times we have groped our way along too slowly-which perhaps is not surprising, given the magnitude of the problem. But the U.S. Government has accepted its essential responsibility to keep trying; and the progress achieved thus far could not have been realized without this continuity of effort.

It was this bipartisan support which led to the creation of the world's first arms control and disarmament agency. While in the beginning some skepticism was voiced as to what an agency of the sort could accomplish, ACDA has now proven itself, as appears to be recognized not only in the United States but also by foreign governments. This is a matter of more than personal satisfaction to this writer. For just as ACDA has already been instrumental in bringing to fruition a number of extremely important arms-control agreements, so, I believe, it is pursuing the only realistic road toward further enhancement of our security and well-being.

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