In South-east Asia and the Middle East, on land and at sea around the world, the vast arsenals of the Soviet Union and the United States are in a state of constant confrontation.
In South-east Asia and the Middle East, on land and at sea around the world, the vast arsenals of the Soviet Union and the United States are in a state of constant confrontation. So when President Nixon makes his visit to Moscow later this month, the international problem of disarmament is expected to play a dominant role in talks with Soviet leaders.
The third of our background features of the President's Moscow trip therefore concentrates on aspects of the current Soviet-American arms balance around the world, starting with a glimpse of the missile forces of both countries -- Soviet leaders watching a massive display of rocketry in an October Revolution anniversary parade, the Americans making an underwater launch of the Poseidon missile while a Soviet ship manoeuvres for a closeup view.
While the military machines of both countries vie for positions, the diplomats have kept open disarmament negotiations. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), currently in their seventh session, have been making progress. Some observers feel the negotiators may produce a compromise agreement on arms limitation before President Nixon's Moscow visit.
Meantime, the conventional weaponry of both sides is in daily action in South-east Asia. American crews have been flying B-52s on bombing missions against North Vietnam. Soviet MIGs an missiles -- manned by North Vietnamese -- have been opposing them.
A major crisis seemed to threaten last month when Moscow bitterly protested that Soviet ships had been damaged during an American air strike against Haiphong, the chief North Vietnamese port.
But the will to egotists is at present strong in both Moscow and Washington. Kremlin leaders have stressed the need for developing co-operation in spite of President Nixon's recent affirmation that the air war will continue for as long as North Vietnamese troops continue operations in the south. In a television broadcast, Mr. Nixon quoted a report provided by his military Commander in Vietnam:
SYNOPSIS: From Moscow, an aspect of Soviet life that President Nixon won't be seeing during his visit to Kremlin leaders later this month. Even so, the massive arsenals of both super-powers are expected to be a major topic for negotiation. And there's a real chance that the summit talks could help ease the tensions of the arms race. Meantime, here follows a survey of the confrontation of Soviet and American weaponry around the world.
Off the Florida coast, a Soviet ship manoeuvres for position to monitor the first underwater launch of a United States Poseidon missile -- a multi-warhead rocket intended to replace Polaris aboard nuclear submarines. It happened eighteen months ago, when the super-powers each had an estimated thousand land-based inter-continental missiles, plus several hundred more aboard submarines.
At the same time, the Americans had a chance to study the Soviet submarine fleets -- and sea power generally -- when a Soviet flotilla headed for Cuba. The Russian naval build-up had been a major cause of concern to Washington.
The chief safety valve for this buildup in military pressure has been the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. There's been real progress during the last year, and the finalisation of a major agreement could come during Mr. Nixon's Moscow visit.
Meantime, the conventional weapons of both powers continue in a state of confrontation throughout the world -- and in South-east Asia they are in daily action. Giant American B-52 bombers, operating form thailand and Guam, have once again pounded North Vietnamese cities, as well as troop concentrations in the south. A major crisis threatened when Moscow protested that Soviet ships had been damaged during an air-raid on the principal North Vietnamese port of Haiphong.
The American attitude has been to condemn Moscow for supplying missiles and other weapons to the North Vietnamese. In their determination to negotiate, however, both sides have shown a will to separate Vietnam from more general disarmament questions.
Even so, Vietnam remains the powderkeg. The Soviet Union provides the MIG fighter bombers and their air-to-air missiles for Northern Vietnamese pilots to fly against American aircraft and crews. In a televised speech just before the Moscow trip, President Nixon predicted some fierce fighting ahead: