Section 2. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union
During the past year, the so-called "dialogue" relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union made progress against the background of a balance between them in the field of nuclear strategy, and it exerted a desirable influence on moves toward the easing of tensions between them. The progress made in their bilateral relations on the working level was another feature.
The major events included the following: (i) the realization of President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union and of the U.S.-Soviet summit talks as scheduled, despite strong measures taken by the United States against North Vietnam, and the conclusion of the agreement on the principles of their bilateral relations, the first SALT agreement and other agreements (in May 1972) ; (ii) the settlement in October, following the conclusion of the grain deal agreement (in July 1972), of problems such as the conclusion of the agreement on the repayment by the Soviet Union of its wartime debts to the United States and of the trade agreement, on which no agreement was reached on the occasion of President Nixon's visit; and (iii) the adjustment of opinions between the United States and the Soviet Union on the occasion of Presidential Assistant Kissinger's visit to the Soviet Union (in September 1972) on future East-West talks on Europe, such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR).
The two countries showed a cooperative attitude not only in their bilateral relations but also in international relations as a whole. Although it was once feared (in view of Brezhnev's speech in December) that the U.S. naval blockade of North Vietnam might adversely affect U.S.-Soviet relations, it did not result in any concrete indication of a deterioration in their bilateral relations. There were no signs of strain in their bilateral relations over Middle East problems that potentially could become a factor leading to a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The following are developments in American-Soviet relations in the past year that deserve special mention:
1. The U.S. President's visit to the Soviet Union
President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union (in May 1972) was the most epoch-making event since Soviet Premier Khrushchev's visit to the United States in 1959 in that it was the first visit ever made to the Soviet Union by an American President after the war.
His visit was realized despite the fact that the U.S.-Soviet confrontation over the Vietnam problem had deepened because of the U.S. naval blockade of North Vietnam. It produced concrete results, including the agreement on basic documents ("The Basic Principles of Relations") concerning U.S.-Soviet bilateral relations and the conclusion of the first SALT agreement and a few working arrangements.
All this was regarded as indicating that relations of limited coexistence and cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union were taking root.
2. Progress of bilateral relations in disarmament
(1) Effectuation of the ABM Treaty
The seventh round of the U.S.-Soviet talks on strategic arms limitations (the so-called first SALT), which exerts a great influence on the world's military strategic structure, was held in Helsinki from March 28 to May 26, 1972. As a result, the United States and the Soviet Union concluded a treaty limiting anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and a provisional agreement on certain measures to limit strategic offensive weapons. Then, on October 3, the two countries exchanged instruments of ratification of the treaty and notes of acceptance of the provisional agreement, and the treaty and the agreement went into force.
The ABM treaty limits the number of ABMs for the defense of the capital of each signatory and that of defensive ABMs for the defense of one intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) base to less than 100 each and provides for some qualitative restrictions on radar and other related facilities. As for offensive weapons, the provisional agreement and the protocol to the agreement provide that (i) ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) be limited to those already in operation and under construction as of July 1, 1972, and that (ii) the United States limits the number of submarines armed with new-type ballistic missiles to 44 and SLBMs to 710, while the Soviet Union limits such submarines and SLBMs to 62 and 950 respectively. The term of the ABM treaty is indefinite, while the term of the provisional agreement on strategic offensive weapons is for five years. The treaty and the provisional agreement are the first products of the U.S.-Soviet SALT negotiations held over the past two and a half years.
(2) U.S. and Soviet efforts to avoid nuclear war
The agreements reached at the first SALT negotiations were of fundamental importance for the peace and security of the world and the greatest product of the U.S.-Soviet summit talks.
The talks were evaluated as a success and as having contributed greatly to the easing of general international tensions in that (i) the two countries deepened their relations of cooperation and trust to avoid nuclear war, (ii) they reached agreement, although limited in scope, on not only defensive nuclear weapons but also offensive weapons, and that (iii) they agreed to hold the second SALT at an early date.
The United States and the Soviet Union then held the first round of the second SALT in Geneva from November 21 to December 21, 1972, and reached agreement on a memorandum regarding their understanding for the establishment of a permanent committee under the first SALT agreement.
3. Progress of U.S.-Soviet working relations, including trade and shipping
The two countries signed various agreements on cooperation on the occasion of President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union. But they could not reach agreement on trade and the repayment of wartime loans the Soviet Union had received from the United States. However, they signed agreements on these problems in October as a result of two meetings of their joint committee (in July and September). Agreements on shipping and mutual credits were also signed at the same time. In the meantime, the two countries signed a grain deal agreement (in July 1972), and U.S.-Soviet relations moved steadily forward on the working level after the summit talks.
These events were followed by a series of other events that promoted economic and cultural contacts between the two countries, such as the conclusion of a U.S.-Soviet fishery agreement, the holding of a U.S.-Soviet trade conference and a U.S.-Soviet experts' conference on space biology and space medicine (all in February 1973), U.S. Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz's visit to the Soviet Union (in March 1973), a Soviet astronaut's visit to the United States, and a visit to the United States by a group of Soviet gymnasts.
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