The cruise missile and arms control

Author/s (editor/s):

Ron Huisken

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 20

In 1972 the United States made the rather surprising announcement that it would develop a submarine-launched strategic cruise missile. Within a short time the cruise missile was being labeled as one of the most significant weapons developments of the decade with major applications in theatre and tactical as well as strategic roles.

The characteristics of a cruise missile are such that its range and type of warhead - and therefore its role - cannot be reliably determined by external inspection, monitoring test flights or noting the platform on which it is deployed. Largely because of this ambiguity, the cruise missile became one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations on a second strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT II). More generally, the cruise missile played an instrumental role in widening the scope of these negotiations to include long-range in theatre nuclear systems that occupy the gray area between strategic and battlefield weapons.

In this monograph Mr Huisken makes a detailed examination of the role played by cruise missiles in SALT II and offers some thoughts on their implications for SALT III.

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