On this day June 18, 1979

The United States and the Soviet Union signed in Vienna the SALT II treaty, placing specific limits on each side’s stock of nuclear weapons.

Carter and sign SALT II treaty in Vienna

Treaty sign in Vienna

The treaty was signed by Leonid Brezhnev and President of the United States Jimmy Carter. In response to the refusal of the U.S. Congress to ratify the treaty, a young member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, met with the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko, “educated him about American concerns and interests” and secured several changes that neither the U.S. Secretary of State nor President Jimmy Carter could obtain.

Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union deployed troops to Afghanistan, and in September of the same year senators including Henry M. Jackson and Frank Church discovered the so-called “Soviet brigade” on Cuba. In light of these developments, the treaty was never formally ratified by the United States Senate. Its terms were, nonetheless, honored by both sides until 1986 when the Reagan Administration withdrew from SALT II after accusing the Soviets of violating the pact.

Subsequent discussions took place under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. which ultimately ended the Cold War.

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