cover image: Interview with Jimmy Carter, 1987


Interview with Jimmy Carter, 1987


Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States, from 1977 to 1981. In the interview Carter conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, he relates his experience as president-elect, when the task at hand was to absorb military force structure and preparedness. As Carter recalls, the Soviets temporarily shelved the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) II talks after he pressed them on human-rights violations. From the get-go, he wanted an arms-control agreement that he negotiated, as opposed to one shaped by a prior administration. Rather than build from the 1974 Vladivostok agreement, Carter immediately sought dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons, but he was compelled to acquiesce to the step-by-step process that the Soviet Union would accept. The Salt II Treaty that he and Leonid Brezhnev signed in June 1979 was, Carter believed, the best they could do at the time. Not expecting the pitfalls that lay ahead, both men anticipated a SALT III agreement that would produce more-dramatic results. He recalls the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and its impact on the ratification of the SALT II agreement. In his interview, Carter also discusses his support for limited linkage, such as pressuring the Soviets to minimize their role in Ethiopia while still continuing arms talks. In 1978, there was general agreement about normalizing relations with China, to be followed by Deng Xiaoping's visit to the United States. The timing of the visit—it occurred just a month prior to a Soviet summit meeting—proved controversial, but it remains a decision that Carter defends. He also upholds his decision to approve funding for the MX missile as a stabilizing factor. Finally, Carter points out that the terms of SALT II, although never ratified, remained intact for at least seven years, and that its concepts provided a stable framework for subsequent negotiations.
horn of africa intercontinental ballistic missiles international relations nuclear weapons soviet union nuclear nonproliferation nuclear arms control kennedy, john f. (john fitzgerald) 1917-1963 strategic arms limitation talks ii jackson, henry m. (henry martin) 1912-1983 gromyko, andrei andreevich 1909-1989 mx (weapons system) deng, xiaoping 1904-1997 nitze, paul h united states. joint chiefs of staff chamberlain, neville 1869-1940 dulles, john foster 1888-1959 gorbachev, mikhail brezhnev, leonid il'ich, 1906-1982


Carter, Jimmy, 1924

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Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia, United States Ethiopia China Afghanistan
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