There are three simultaneous arms races—the Soviet-American competition in nuclear arms, the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries, and the worldwide traffic in conventional arms. All three have been flourishing, at a worldwide cost of over $300 billion a year. Until recently, these interlocked arms races have cast a deepening sense of despair among the specialists who monitor them. Predictions of nuclear war in this century have multiplied, particularly since India showed that a Third World country could develop a nuclear”device” from atoms supposedly designed for peaceful purposes.
The Carter administration, however, is changing the climate in which decisions about arms are made. In his inaugural address, Jimmy Carter reiterated a campaign theme when he said: “We will move this year a step toward our ultimate goal— the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this earth.” In his first contacts with the press, the new President asserted that he: (1) is prepared to bypass the dispute over the U.S. cruise missile and the Soviet Backfire bomber in order to obtain quick consummation of a SALT II treaty; (2) wants a rapid halt to underground nuclear tests and advance notice of missile tests; (3) personally intends to review all arms sales. Vice-President Mondale’s first trip to Europe was marked by pressure on France and West Germany to curb nuclear exports. And Mr. Carter has even ordered the Pentagon to study how many missiles would be needed for “minimum deterrence.”...
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