Prospects for agreement to limit Soviet and American military expenditure

by Abraham S. Becker

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Testimony before the Subcommittee on Priorities and Economy in Government, Joint Economic Committee, regarding a defense spending limitation agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, drawing on the author's experience as a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Reduction of Military Budgets. It is clear that U.S. and Soviet expenditures on strategic forces have not been reduced because of SALT I agreements. There are distinct advantages to agreements to restrain military outlays, but they also pose technical and political problems: (1) the definition and measurement of military outlays, (2) the effect of limiting the two states' military expenditures on security, (3) problems of verification, and (4) the problem of Soviet secretiveness. The report of the 1976 Expert Group recommended a standardized universal reporting of military expenditures. That recommendation can be viewed as one small step on the road to military budget limitations and merits the full support of the U.S. government.

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