In the SALT Agreement last year, the United States gave in to the Soviet demand for a 3-to-2 superiority over us in missile-firing submarines. The Agreement allows the Soviets to have 62, whereas we are permitted only 44. In the descriptive expression of the Wall Street Journal, SALT enables the Soviets “to go on turning out submarines like sausages,” while we are frozen dead in our tracks.
President Nixon and Henry Kissinger accepted this inferiority on the excuse that our submarine-fired missiles have more warheads, since each Poseidon missile carries 10 Multiple Independently-targeted JReentry Vehicles, called MIRVs.
Now we learn that our Poseidon missile has flunked its tests. Out of 24 operational tests, there have been 14 failures — a failure rate of 58 percent. At least 8of these 14 failures occurred in the warhead itself.
For example, when the Poseidon was tested off Cape Kennedy last May, the missile went violently out of control, blew apart trailing a brilliant yellow flame, and crashed into these in front of 200 astonished VIPs. To make matters worse, a Soviet spy ship, which mysteriously showed up at the exact time and place of the test, beat us to the splashdown and picked up the telltale debris.
The man in charge of the Poseidon program, Rear Admiral Levering Smith, testified before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees that failures had occurred in both the first and second Poseidon stages, as well as in its warheads. He testified that we need a rush “recall” of “essentially all” our Poseidons in order to disassemble and test their components.
This month, Navy Secretary John Warner announced that all Poseidon missiles will have to be checked, and modified if necessary, because of problems encountered during their tests.
This raises the question: why did our President, at a midnight champagne party in the Kremlinon on May 26, 1972, sign the SALT agreement giving the Russians a 3-to-2 lead in missiles and submarines, even though our Poseidon has never passed operational tests? Did our President receive inaccurate advice on the reliability of our Poseidon from his chief adviser on national security? Or, was our President told by the now-indicted members of the Committee to Reelect the President that it would be smart politics and assure his reelection if he signed the SALT Agreements in Moscow in front of television cameras— regardless of how one-sided they are?
It might be helpful if Senator Ervin’s Committee would look in on what kind of advice President Nixon was given on the SALT Agreements. It would be even more helpful if we adopt a rush program to eliminate the bugs from our Poseidon, to improve the accuracy and extend the range of our warheads, to proceed with production of the new Trident submarine, and to build the additional nuclear submarines which we are permitted to build under the SALT Agreement, just as the Soviets are doing.