Prevention of Nuclear War Agreement
Entered into force June 22, 1973
From the onset of the SALT negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two countries began the process of reshaping their relations on the basis of peaceful cooperation. One of the primary goals in this relationship was the prevention of war, especially nuclear war. During the last session of the Moscow summit meeting in May 1972, the countries exchanged some general ideas on how to accomplish this objective. These discussions were continued throughout the next year and were concluded in a formal agreement during General Secretary Brezhnevs visit to the United States June 18-25, 1973.
In the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, signed in Washington on June 22, 1973, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to make the removal of the danger of nuclear war and the use of nuclear weapons an "objective of their policies," to practice restraint in their relations toward each other and toward all countries, and to pursue a policy dedicated toward stability and peace. It was viewed as a preliminary step toward preventing the outbreak of nuclear war or military conflict by adopting an attitude of international cooperation.
The agreement basically covers two main areas:
- 1. It outlines the general conduct of both countries toward each other and toward third countries regarding the avoidance of nuclear war. In this respect it is a bilateral agreement with multilateral implications.
2. The Parties agreed that in a situation in which the two great nuclear countries find themselves in a nuclear confrontation or in which, either as a result of their policies toward each other or as the result of developments elsewhere in the world, there is a danger of a nuclear confrontation between them or any other country, they are committed to consult with each other in order to avoid this risk.
The agreement further provides that these consultations may be communicated to the United Nations and to other countries, a clause the United States, of course, applies to its allies. Article VI stipulates that nothing in the agreement shall affect formal alliance obligations or the inherent right of countries to defend themselves.
Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Prevention of Nuclear War
Signed at Washington June 22, 1973
Entered into force June 22, 1973
The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, hereinafter referred to as the Parties,
Guided by the objectives of strengthening world peace and international security, Conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for mankind, Proceeding from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated,
Proceeding from their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations regarding the maintenance of peace, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the avoidance of war, and in conformity with the agreements to which either Party has subscribed,
Proceeding from the Basic Principles of Relations between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed in Moscow on May 29, 1972,
Reaffirming that the development of relations between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is not directed against other countries and their interests,
Have agreed as follows:
The United States and the Soviet Union agree that an objective of their policies is to remove the danger of nuclear war and of the use of nuclear weapons.
Accordingly, the Parties agree that they will act in such a manner as to prevent the development of situations capable of causing a dangerous exacerbation of their relations, as to avoid military confrontations, and as to exclude the outbreak of
nuclear war between them and between either of the Parties and other countries.
The Parties agree, in accordance with Article I and to realize the objective stated in that Article, to proceed from the premise that each Party will refrain from the threat or use of force against the other Party, against the allies of the other Party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security. The Parties agree that they will be guided by these considerations in the formulation of their foreign policies and in their actions in the field of international relations.
The Parties undertake to develop their relations with each other and with other countries in a way consistent with the purposes of this Agreement.
If at any time relations between the Parties or between either Party and other countries appear to involve the risk of a nuclear conflict, or if relations between countries not parties to this Agreement appear to involve the risk of nuclear war between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or between either Party and other countries, the United States and the Soviet Union, acting in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, shall immediately enter into urgent consultations with each other and make every effort to avert this risk.
Each Party shall be free to inform the Security Council of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Governments of allied or other countries of the progress and outcome of consultations initiated in accordance with Article IV of this Agreement.
Nothing in this Agreement shall affect or impair:
- (a) the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as envisaged by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations,*
(b) the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, including those relating to the maintenance or restoration of international peace and security, and
(c) the obligations undertaken by either Party towards its allies or other countries in treaties, agreements, and other appropriate documents.
This Agreement shall be of unlimited duration.
This Agreement shall enter into force upon signature.
DONE at Washington on June 22, 1973, in two copies, each in the English and Russian languages, both texts being equally authentic.
FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
President of the United States of America
FOR THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS:
General Secretary of the Central Committee, CPSU
*TS 993; 59 Stat. 1044.