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SALT I is the common name for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks from 1969–1972 between the United States and the Soviet Union which resulted in a number of accords relating to the offensive nuclear arsenals of the two nations and a reduction of the nuclear arms race. It was an important element of détente. SALT I treaty is also used as a short-hand for the interim treaty resulting from the talks. SALT I froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at existing levels, and provided for the addition of new SLBM launchers only after the same number of older ICBM and SLBM launchers had been dismantled.
The strategic nuclear forces of the two nations were changing in character in the late 1960s. The Soviet program was for the continued deployment of heavy land-based missiles and new ballistic missile submarines; the Soviet Union had been deploying around two-hundred more missiles every year since 1968. The U.S. total number of missiles had been static since 1967 at 1,054 ICBMs and 656 SLBMs but there was an increasing number of missiles with MIRV warheads being deployed. Both nations were developing anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems, the Soviet Union deploying such a system around Moscow in 1966 and the United States announcing an ABM program to protect twelve ICBM sites in 1967.
Negotiations lasted from November 1969 until May 1972 in a series of meetings beginning in Helsinki on November 17, 1969. Further sessions alternated between Vienna and Helsinki. After a long deadlock the first results of SALT I was in May 1971 when agreement was reached over anti-ballistic missile systems. Further discussion brought the negotiations to an end on May 26, 1972 in Moscow when Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Interim Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Certain Measures With Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. A number of agreed statements were also made.
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