The most important element of the summit was the salt agreements. Discussions on SALT have been going on for about two and a half years, but with little progress. However, during the meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev in May 1972, a monumental breakthrough was made. The SALT de accords signed on 27 May dealt with two important issues. First, they limited the number of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) sites to two. (ABMs were missiles designed to destroy arriving missiles.) Second, the number of intercontinental missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles has been frozen at current levels. However, the agreements have done nothing on several independent return missiles (individual missiles with several nuclear warheads) or on the development of new weapons. Yet most Americans and Soviets hailed the salts agreements as huge achievements. Both agreements were accompanied by a series of “consensual declarations” agreed and paraphrased by the heads of delegations. When both agreements were submitted to the U.S. Congress, they were also accompanied by joint agreements and unilateral declarations made during the negotiations.
These should clarify specific provisions of the agreements or parts of the negotiating protocol. Through diplomatic channels in Washington and Moscow, discussions with Soviet representatives within the ENDC and exchanges at the highest level of the two governments, the United States continued to insist on the Soviet obligation to discuss the strategic limits of armaments. But it was not until the following year that evidence of a Soviet reassessment of their position emerged. On 1 July 1968, at the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, President Johnson announced that an agreement had been reached with the Soviet Union to begin talks on limiting and reducing strategic nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defence systems. The date and location of the talks had not yet been announced when the Soviet Union began its invasion of Czechoslovakia on 20 August, an event that postponed the talks indefinitely. The resulting set of agreements (SALT I) included the Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM) Treaty and the Interim Agreement and Protocol on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons. Both were signed by President Richard M. Nixon for the United States and Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, for the U.S.S.R. on May 26, 1972 at a summit in Moscow. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) were two bilateral conferences and international treaties that involved the United States and the Soviet Union, the Cold War superpowers, on the issue of arms control.