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By Michael Krepon


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S. officials and nuclear weapon strategists about the political benefits to be derived from a dominant posture in strategic weapons, how could the Soviets not be affected to adopt a similar doctrine? Both wings of the arms control community have long questioned how a position of nuclear superiority would promote a stable and lasting peace. Instead, they stressed the benefits of rough parity. Advocates of disarmament called for phased and balanced reductions to zero weaponry, accompanied by the build-up of some sort of supranational authority to monitor compliance and maintain authority.

Statements by President Ronald Reagan about his Administration's intention to secure a "margin of safety" for the United States evoked the same twinges from the arms control community. Paul C. Warnke, Presidentjimmy Carter's Director of ADCA and chief SALT II negotiator, was thus speaking with thirty painful years of arms control history behind him when he told his Congressional antagonists, "I believe ... that the Soviet Union is not going to be willing to sign an agreement that consigns them to inferiority .

Over the four nuclear decades, the arms control community continually stressed the theme that new nuclear weapon developments should not be pursued at the expense of alternative diplomatic approaches. This was at the heart of the General Advisory Committee's recommendation against a crash program to develop the H-bomb. As Oppenheimer wrote to james B. Conant, President of Harvard University and fellow member of the Committee, "What does worry me is that this thing appears to have caught the imagination both of the Congressional and of military people, as the answer to the problem posed by the Russian advance ...

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