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by Dr. Alan Lockwood

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Arms Control Summits

Nuclear Arms Control in a Summit Setting

1972 -- May 26

After two and a half years of negotiation between the United States and the Soviet Union, in a summit meeting in Moscow, U.S. President Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed the two basic SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) I documents. This summit resulted in the two countries signing:

  • The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty limiting strategic anti-ballistic missile defense systems.
  • The Interim Agreement limiting strategic offensive weapons. The agreement freezes the number of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers (ICBMs and SLBMs) at existing levels (1,710 for the United States and 2,347 for the Soviet Union).

1974 -- November 24

Meeting in Vladivostok, U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev announced agreement on a formula for a second plan to limit strategic offensive arms (SALT II):

  • Both sides will be entitled to an equal aggregate number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (SNDVs).
  • Both sides will be entitled to an equal aggregate number of ICBMs and SLBMs equipped with multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).

1979 -- June 18

At a summit meeting in Vienna, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev signed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II). Its major provisions include:

A ceiling of 2,400 ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers for both sides, to be reached within six months after the treaty enters into force, with a further reduction to 2,250 by 1981.

  • A sublimit of 1,320 on strategic ballistic missiles and heavy bombers equipped with multiple-warhead ballistic or multiple cruise missiles.
  • Agreement that each side may build and deploy only one new type of ICBM.
  • Agreement that the 1972 ABM Treaty will remain in effect.
  • Monitoring of compliance by national technical means (NTM).
  • No increase in the production rate of the Soviet Backfire (a medium-range bomber that is not limited by the treaty).

1985 -- November 21

President Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev issued a joint statement in Geneva following two days of intensive negotiations. They agreed to commit their two countries to early progress at the Nuclear and Space Talks and to focus on areas where there is common ground -- the "principle of 50 percent reductions in the nuclear arms of the United States and the Soviet Union appropriately applied."

1986 -- October 11-12

At a summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to equal global ceilings of 100 longer-range intermediate nuclear force missile warheads for each side, with none in Europe. The Soviet Union also offered to freeze its shorter-range intermediate nuclear force missile systems, pending negotiation of reductions, if U.S. SRINF missile systems are "frozen" at the current level of zero. The Soviet Union also agreed in principle to some key verification elements. As a result of this initiative, on December 8, 1987, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the "Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles."

The INF Treaty requires elimination of all LRINF missiles (ranges between 1,000 and 5,500 kilometers) by June 1, 1991 and All SRINF (ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers) missiles within 18 months. A total of 2,692 missiles were slated for elimination under this treaty. In addition, all associated launchers, equipment, support facilities, and operating bases worldwide are to be eliminated or closed out from any further INF missile system activity.

1987 -- December 7-10

Meeting in Washington, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev agreed that their START negotiators should build upon the areas of agreement in the joint draft START treaty text being developed in Geneva. These include:

  • A ceiling of 1,600 SNDVs with 6,000 warheads.
  • A ceiling of 1,540 warheads on 154 heavy missiles.
  • A 50 percent reduction in ballistic missile throw-weight.

During the summit the two leaders made further progress on START, agreeing on a sublimit of 4,900 for the total number of ballistic missile warheads and guidelines for effective verification of a START treaty, building on the verification provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

1988 -- May 29-June 2

At a summit meeting in Moscow, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to confine road-mobile and rail-mobile ICBMs to restricted areas, with right of dispersal for occasional operations and exercises, and accept the requirement to notify once dispersal begins.

On May 31, the sides signed the Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement. Designed to reduce the risk of nuclear war, the agreement requires each side to notify the other at least 24 hours in advance of all ICBM and SLBM launches.

1990 -- May 31-June 3

At a summit in Washington, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev signed the "Joint Statement on the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms." The statement recapitulates already-agreed START provisions and adds two new provisions agreed during the summit:

  • A sublimit of 1,100 on mobile ICBM warheads.
  • A schedule for implementing the reductions in three phases over seven years.

The presidents also agreed that follow-on START negotiations would begin "at the earliest practical date."

1992 -- June 16-18

During a summit meeting in Washington, Presidents Bush and Yeltsin developed the framework for a follow-on strategic reduction agreement (START II). The "Joint Understanding" called for:

  • Elimination of all MIRVed ICBMs.
  • A limit of 1,750 SLBM warheads.
  • Counting rules whereby bombers count as the "number of warheads they are actually equipped to carry."
  • Reductions by both sides to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads each by the year 2003.

1994 -- September 27-28

In a joint statement, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin confirmed their intention to seek early ratification of the START II Treaty. The presidents further agreed "once the START II Treaty is ratified, the United States and Russia will proceed to deactivate all strategic nuclear delivery systems to be reduced under START II by removing their nuclear warheads or taking other steps to remove them from combat status."

1997 -- March 21

At the Helsinki Summit, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin issued a "Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces" containing several elements:

  • Agreement that "...once START II enters into force, the United States and Russia will immediately begin negotiations on a START III agreement."
  • Agreement to extend the elimination deadline for strategic nuclear delivery vehicles under START II from 2003 to December 31, 2007, a delay of five years.
  • Agreement to deactivate all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles scheduled for elimination under START II by December 31, 2003.
  • Agreement to initiate separate talks concerning "possible measures relating to nuclear long-range sea-launched cruise missiles and tactical nuclear systems."

They also discussed agreement on a framework for START III to include:

  • Reductions to 2,000 to 2,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads by December 31, 2007 (coterminus with the extended START II deadline);
  • Measures, to be determined through negotiation, to establish transparency in warhead inventories and destruction of such; and
  • The goal of making the START treaties permanent.

2001, November 13

On November 13, after his initial summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President George W. Bush announced the United States would reduce its strategic nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. President Putin indicated Russia would "try to respond in kind."

Nuclear Arms Control Through Unilateral Nuclear Reductions Initiatives

1991 -- September 27

President Bush announced that the United States would withdraw all of its land-based tactical nuclear weapons from overseas bases and all of its sea-based tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ships, submarines, and aircraft (see section 5, September 27, 1991). In addition, the United States would immediately stand down all strategic bombers currently on day-to-day alert status and store their weapons, immediately stand down all ICBMs scheduled for deactivation under START, halt development of the rail garrison and mobile ICBM program, and cancel the follow- on short-range attack missile (SRAM-II) for heavy bombers.

1991 -- October 5

President Gorbachev, in response to President Bush's initiative, announced that the Soviet Union would immediately:

  • Stand down all strategic bombers currently on day-to-day alert status and store their weapons.
  • Stand down 503 ICBMs, including 134 MIRVed missiles.
  • Stop the buildup of launching facilities for rail-based ICBMs, halt their modernization, and return them to basing facilities.
  • Discontinue development of a small mobile ICBM and of a short-range attack missile for heavy bombers.

1992 -- January 27

Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced that Russia intends to cease production of strategic bombers and ALCMs, forego replacing tactical nuclear warheads for ground-launched weapons that are scheduled to be destroyed, and close down all remaining nuclear reactors that produce plutonium for weapons by the year 2000. He calls on the United States and Russia to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals to 2,000 to 2,500 warheads each, to begin talks on a fissile material cutoff agreement, and to de-target strategic nuclear missiles aimed at each other's territory.

1992 -- January 28

In a speech to the U.S. Congress, President Bush offered to cut U.S. strategic weapons further. He announced that, "After completing 20 planes for which we have begun procurement, we will shut down further production of the B-2 bomber. We will cancel the small ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper missile. And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles."

In a preview of what will become the START II Treaty, President Bush reported that, "I have informed President Yeltsin that if the [CIS] will eliminate all land-based multiple-warhead ballistic missiles...we will eliminate all Peacekeeper missiles. We will reduce the number of heads on Minuteman missiles to one and reduce the number of warheads on our sea-based missiles by about one-third. And we will convert a substantial portion of our strategic bombers to primarily conventional use."

1991 -- September 27

President Bush announced a major unilateral withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons: "I am...directing that the United States eliminate its entire worldwide inventory of ground-launched short-range, that is, theater, nuclear weapons. We will bring home and destroy all of our nuclear artillery shells and short-range ballistic missile warheads. We will, of course, insure that we preserve an effective air-delivered nuclear capability in Europe.

"In turn, I have asked the destroy their entire inventory of ground-launched theater nuclear weapons....

"Recognizing further the major changes in the international military landscape, the United States will withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from its surface ships, attack submarines, as well as those nuclear weapons associated with our land-based naval aircraft. This means removing all nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. ships and submarines, as well as nuclear bombs aboard aircraft carriers."

1991 -- October 5

President Gorbachev responded to President Bush's unilateral withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons by calling for the elimination of air-based weapons and announcing that:

  • "All nuclear artillery munitions and nuclear warheads for tactical missiles shall be eliminated.
  • "Nuclear warheads for air defense missiles shall be withdrawn from the troops and concentrated in central bases, and a portion of them shall be eliminated. All nuclear mines shall be eliminated.
  • "All tactical nuclear weapons shall be removed from surface ships and multipurpose submarines. These weapons, as well as nuclear weapons on land-based naval aviation, shall be stored in central storage sites and a portion shall be eliminated.
  • "Moreover, we propose that the United States eliminate fully, on the basis of reciprocity, all tactical nuclear weapons of naval forces. In addition, on the basis of reciprocity, it would be possible to withdraw from combat units on frontal (tactical) aviation, all nuclear weapons (gravity bombs and air-launched missiles) and place them in centralized storage bases."

Source: The Department of State, "Arms Control and Disarmament: The U.S. Commitment"

2010 - April - Washington DC


Nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and strong nuclear security measures are the most effective meansto prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials. In addition to our shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, we also all share the objective of nuclear security. Therefore those gathered here in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2010, commit to strengthen nuclear security and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. Success will require responsible national actions and sustained and effective international cooperation.

Communique from the White House.

Fact check the Washington DC Nuclear Summit

2012 - March - Seoul


The "2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit", held in Seoul in March 2012, was the largest summit in the security field that discusses international cooperative measures to protect nuclear materials and facilities from terrorist groups, with participation from more than 53 heads of state and international organizations.

Korea has established its status as an advanced country by securing the hosting of a whole range of international meetings in the economic, cultural, and sports fields including the hosting of the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit. The holding of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit means that Korea has gained even greater standing in the international community in the security field as well. In addition, it is meaningful that Korea will play a leading role in establishing global governance in the security and political fields just as it played a significant role in the economic field through the hosting of the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit.

2012 Seoul Nuclear Summit Preparatory Secretariat

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