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An approach to understanding and assessing issues concerning arms control is presented. Arms control has two main objectives: (1) decreasing the possibility of a nuclear exchange; and (2) limiting the scope and intensity of such an exchange. A framework is presented for dealing with those issues relevant to the nuclear balance problem that is the central issue of arms control. A parity index is derived to evaluate the relative strengths of the two negotiating parties. This index provides an aggregate measure of the ability of each party to alleviate its concern and reach its goals. The use of the index provides a quick way to test various negotiating postures and provide a quantitative assessment of their relative merit.