19. Letter From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Foster) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1

Dear Bob,

I have received comments from members of the Committee of Principals on the 29 February draft policy paper pertinent to the “Basic Elements of a Verified Freeze of Strategic Delivery Vehicles.”2 I have attempted to incorporate these comments into another draft3 to the extent they conform to my understanding of the agreements reached by the Committee of Principals last February 28.4 This latest draft has been circulated to each of the members.

From the comments made by you and the JCS on the earlier draft, there are three areas where negotiating tactics seem to be unnecessarily entwined with basic policy.

With regard to the question of linking a possible “freeze” proposal with a possible “cut-off” proposal, I have studied the extensive treatment of this subject by the JCS (JCSMs 128-645 and 187-64).6 I have noted your views and theirs as to the essentiality of linking any such proposals which might be made to the USSR. Leaving the need for this link to future government decision, as decided at the Principals’ meeting, I feel that I must have leeway as to the tactics in exploring possible proposals in these two fields, as well as the remainder of the items in the President’s five-point message. As Secretary Rusk observed at the Principals’ meeting, if we were to state initially that the U.S. insists on linking the two measures, we would pay a political price during the initial exploration that we may never need to pay. However, we do not want to state at this time that they are not linked. I believe that the wording suggested by the Chiefs and agreed to by you would, in effect, require us to insist on clear linkage from the start and would thus not be fully responsive to the intent of the Principals’ meeting. In view of what appeared to be your judgment as to [Page 42] the essentiality of linkage, however, my own explorations for the present should not preclude our insisting upon such linkage if and when the Soviets indicate a real interest in the freeze—presuming, of course, that the need for the linkage is ultimately determined to be the U.S. Governmental position.
With regard to the limitations to be placed on construction and improvement of launchers, we agreed at the last Principals’ meeting that the preparation of a detailed position was not desirable at this time. We also agreed on the need for indicating that we would protect the MLF even though we could not state at this time just how this would be done. The proposed wording of the JCS comments on this matter appears to make it virtually impossible to explain, even to our Allies, that there do exist ways and means to protect the MLF.
With regard to prototype testing, we agreed at the last meeting of the Committee of Principals not to restrict R&D efforts in any way which could not be adequately verified, and would therefore place the U.S. at a disadvantage because of its more open society. We also agreed to establish a task force (which is now at work) to study the technical questions involved in controlling various forms of prototype testing, and to await their report before determining the specifics of our position on prototype testing. In the interim, it appears to me that we would fare far better in exploratory discussions if we at least imply a willingness to impose suitable limitations on prototype testing, within the limitations imposed by verification considerations. This appears to be in consonance with the spirit of the basic measure. If the USSR does not show any detailed interest we would thus avoid giving the USSR an important new propaganda angle from which to attack our proposal. If they do show some active interest, we can use the results of the technical study as a basis for insisting on the continuation of whatever prototype construction and testing activities we ultimately decide are necessary.

In setting forth the above, I have attempted to leave open Governmental decisions on the items referred to above—decisions which the Committee of Principals agreed do not have to be made at this time. However, by means of this policy paper, I am trying to arrive at a basis on which we can prepare a presentation to NAC to elaborate on one item of the President’s brief message to the ENDC last January 21.7 I hope, therefore, that you can concur in my latest draft of the subject policy paper which differs from your wording on the three items cited above.


William C. Foster 8
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Disarmament, ACDA Publications, Vol. II, Box 12. Secret.
  2. The draft policy paper was transmitted under cover of a February 29 memorandum from Foster to the members of the Committee of Principals. (Ibid., Vol. 1, Box 10) Comments on this draft have not been found.
  3. A copy of this undated draft, with JCS proposed amendments, is attached as Appendix A to a March 18 memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to McNamara (JCSM-223-64). (Ibid.)
  4. For notes of the February 28 meeting, see Document 14.
  5. See footnote 3, Document 12.
  6. Dated March 5; not found.
  7. See footnote 3, Document 4.
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.