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The Reagan administration was skeptical of earlier US arms control policies, but as it rebuilt US defenses, the administration also conducted nuclear arms negotiations, which came to a temporary halt after the Soviet walkout toward the end of 1983. This chapter discusses SDI and the Soviet response, the nuclear freeze movement, INF talks, including the US “zero option” and the unsuccessful private “walk in the woods” compromise by US negotiator Paul Nitze, and START. A final section describes the Soviet approach to arms control, deep secrecy even from Soviet civilian negotiators; the policy of “backstopping” for the negotiations; and the Soviet approach toward nuclear conflict. It debunks, based on testimony by senior Soviet military officials, reports that the Soviets secretly deployed a “Dead Hand” system for automatically launching nuclear weapons without any human intervention. It includes aspects of the author’s experience as part of the US START delegation and his participation in a nuclear conflict “continuity in government” program.

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