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This paper, which is included as a chapter in U.S.-Soviet Relations: The Next Phase (Cornell University Press, 1986), analyzes the nuclear arms control dimension of U.S.-Soviet relations as it enters a new phase. It reviews the developments and forces that led to the present impasse, discusses the nuclear arms agenda before the leaderships of the two states, and considers the prospects for future agreements. It includes an analysis of the Soviet and American arms control proposals of October and November 1985 and discusses prospects for agreement in the light of congruent and divergent aspects of the two proposals. The authors suggest that an arrangement between the superpowers that provided the Soviet Union with assurances against a U.S. strategic defensive breakout during the lifetime of any new far-reaching arms reduction treaty might facilitate conclusion of such an agreement. Constraints on flight testing might slow down the pace of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), depending on precisely where the line was drawn between permitted research and forbidden testing and for how long. However, in the context of a new treaty reducing nuclear offensive arms, continued U.S. conduct of a vigorous SDI research program within agreed constraints would provide the Soviet Union with strong additional incentives to comply more punctiliously than it has in the past with treaty provisions.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper (Soviet) series. The occasional paper series was a product of RAND from 1985 to 1992. It included the occasional paper education (OPE) and occasional paper Soviet (OPS), which was issued jointly by the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies (CSS) to facilitate the exchange of ideas among those who shared the research interests of the Center and of scholars participating in its research and seminar programs.

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