1972: ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE TREATY

Early efforts by the US and Soviet Union to design and build missile defense systems were stymied by the realization that such systems would likely compel both sides to build more weapons in order to overwhelm the other’s defenses. The ABM Treaty, entered into force in 1972, allowed the US and USSR to have two ABM sites each: one protecting their capital, and another protecting a weapons site. The treaty’s innovations were mostly political but also technical: satellite verification was a key component, and the treaty was the first to prohibit countries from interfering with one another’s verification tools. LEARN MORE

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