207. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

896. Ref: State 30165.2 Subject: Strategic Arms Control Talks.

Implication of reftel is that decision announce light deployment3 already made or at least will probably be made even if Soviets agree schedule talks. If this is the case I strongly believe we should not make further approach to Soviets unless we can tell them frankly that announcement will be made. Otherwise they will have good case for charging bad faith and canceling talks with great damage to our position before world opinion. If not possible tell them our intentions now, believe we should proceed promptly with announcement at same time expressing our desire proceed with strategic arms control talks. While our announcement would make more difficult Soviet agreement to talks, we could stress that they are already carrying out deployment.
If we can give firm indication our intention make announcement, I believe would be useful for me to take up the matter informally with both Gromyko and Dobrynin, particularly if I could tell them that if they schedule talks we will be prepared present more concrete proposal.
My own view is that we should go further and put forward proposal now. We know Soviet military opposed and in absence of specific proposal they can conjure up all kinds of pitfalls in arguing against talks as well as argument that US not sincere and merely wishes obtain information on Soviet capabilities and plans. (Dobrynin indicated to me civilians found it difficult to counter military arguments on this highly technical subject.) Also in event Soviets continue fail to open talks we will be in much stronger position when our decision deploy announced if we had put forward serious proposal. I believe if specific proposal made Soviets will in fact at least agree to discuss it.
Since Soviet military position clear, believe attempt to advance consideration through military channels likely be counter-productive.
Re last question reftel, from Soviet point of view public emphasis that deployment necessitated by Chicom developments has both pros and cons. From ours I am inclined to view we should avoid taking any official position on this as uncertainty would bring more pressure on Soviets to negotiate. Might be helpful state that our basic position based [Page 508] on deterrence. We recognize interest of Soviets that deterrence be mutual and that we always stand ready to work out arrangements for both sides to achieve security at lowest practical level.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Meetings with the President, July thru December 1967, Box 1. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Not found.
  3. Regarding the development of the proposed ABM deployment, see Documents 173, 202204, and Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume X.