Will SALT, that well-known collection of letters that has come to stand for U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations, turn into SART, a newcomer to the world of diplomatic buzz words?
That is the question some administration officials are pondering as they seek to bring a clear, Reagan-administration touch to the world of arms control and to have the title of possible future talks match the views of the new regime.
SALT, since 1969, has stood for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the process by which both superpower have sought to put limits on their continent-spanning missiles, bombers and missile-firing submarines.
But President Reagan campaigned on the idea that the first SALT agreement reached with Moscow in 1972 and the second one signed in 1979 have not limited nuclear weapons but rather have allows a mutual buildup that is more favorable to the Soviets than to this country.
Reagan has talked repeatedly of being willing to engage in "real" arms control negotiations with Moscow if they will lead to "an actual reduction" in the number of nuclear weapons on each side so the threat to each country is reduced.
SART, standing for Strategic Arms Recution Talks, is a tentative name that some administration officials believe may eventually be adopted to make this point official.
The matter has not yet been discussed by the official policymaking apparatus, and no decision has been made. But officials say it is clear that the SALT II treaty, signed by President Carter, will not be ratified by the new administration and that a new point of departure is needed.
The administration has not said officially what it will propose instead of SALT II, but has given strong indications that any proposals to resume talks with Moscow on strategic arms will involve major cuts in weaponry.
At the White House yesterday, a senior administration official briefing reporters on Reagan's meeting with visiting West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt specifically used the term -- arms reduction talks -- in describing Reagan's comments.