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.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.
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.