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Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Policy Brief  No.47 - September, 2019

US-Soviet Arms Control During Détente: Lessons for the Present

Arms control during the years of détente remains almost a legend: it was born in the middle of a dangerous stand-off between two implacable rivals and achieved reasonable successes in substance and the overall atmosphere of cooperation. As the world has entered an unstable and dangerous phase in 2010s, we look back to the 1970s in search of lessons to be drawn and examples to follow. Can that experience be replicated? How can we launch a new arms control effort at the time of worsening and increasingly dangerous geopolitical competition? If two rival superpowers could engage in a cooperative endeavour in the midst of a geo-political conflict, perhaps we could repeat the experience today and mitigate the more dangerous aspects of the conflict that will likely continue for an extended period of time.