Like Iran, pacts with USSR ignored foe’s behavior

Complaints nuke deal must demand Tehran change conduct ignore long history of arms control accords with Cold War enemy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim it is flawed, among many reasons, because it does not demand that Tehran also change its behavior at home and abroad. That complaint ignores the United States’ long history of striking arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous enemy.

Dating as far back as the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 — less than a year after the Cuban missile crisis — US administrations engaged the Soviet Union in agreements to limit nuclear threats while not linking deals to abhorrent Soviet human rights abuses and the active arming and funding of leftist, anti-American revolutionary movements around the world.

Nuclear negotiations continued to a 1979 agreement on SALT II to further reduce nuclear arms. President Jimmy Carter pulled out of the deal six months later after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But just three years after that, staunchly anti-Soviet President Ronald Reagan unveiled the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START, aimed at shrinking US and Soviet warhead arsenals and the number of bombers and missiles to deliver the bombs.

None of the deals, however, blunted US efforts against what was seen as Soviet bad behavior, especially in Afghanistan.

“What we had to do was confront the Soviets directly by arming the mujahedeen (anti-Soviet Afghan fighters) and other things while we pursued on a parallel track arms negotiations,” said William Courtney of the RAND Corporation and a former US diplomat who worked on arms control and served in Moscow.

“That’s probably the same strategy that we have to do with Iran. The Iranians were unlikely to agree to a nuclear accord that required them to stop arming Hezbollah or Assad or the like,” he said, referring to the Lebanese terror group that is an avowed enemy of Israel and embattled Syrian President Basher Assad, Iran’s close ally.

The same year that START was signed, Reagan unnerved the Soviets with a speech proposing a space-based system to knock out any nuclear attack on the United States at a time when the Soviets were falling further and further behind in weapons technology. While the program was abandoned after needed technology proved too complex, the ploy was similar to Nixon’s opening to China that also rattled the Soviets in the 1970s and likely prompted Moscow’s readiness for the détente period.

Full article: Like Iran, pacts with USSR ignored foe’s behavior (The Times of Israel)

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