253. Summary of Meeting1


Schedule for Preparation

Mr. Fisher said although no specific time for the talks appears yet to have been set, we must, for planning purposes, assume that the U.S. should be ready by the middle of August. He also said that when the President returns on July 212 he will undoubtedly want to have a report on where we are in our preparations. Mr. Halperin said that it would be better if we could have until the end of August to complete our preparations.

Mr. Fisher hoped we could have the DOD/JCS re-write the opening statement by the first of next week. Mr. Halperin said they would try to get the opening statement by some time early next week. He said they could get the first part of it—dealing with principles and introductory material—to us by then but it was difficult to get the section dealing with a specific proposal agreed in the Pentagon until the basic position had been agreed upon. Mr. Bohlen said we would have to have a specific proposal when we start talking with the Soviets. Mr. Fisher noted we had already told them we would have a specific proposal when the talks start. Mr. Shaw3 noted there had been some misunderstanding regarding the message containing the later commitment and that DOD thought we would say we expected both sides to have proposals.

Mr. Halperin said DOD would go on working on the specific proposal but would send around the first part of the opening statement so that the Working Group could get at that part at an early date.

Mr. Fisher said if we were to have a position approved by the President by August 15th, the Working Group would have to have issues and recommendations before the Principals by around the 2nd or 3rd of August. Mr. Halperin thought it would take four weeks for DOD and JCS to have a suggested basic position for consideration by the Working [Page 639] Group. Mr. Bohlen, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Keeny said such a schedule would not fit the need to have an agreed position by August 15. Mr. Keeny said we could not go to the President for a decision two or three days before the 15th since this would give him no time for any Congressional consultation.

It was agreed by General Evans and Mr. Halperin that we should try to have a position ready by August 15.


It was noted that SNIE 11-13-68,4 which will replace SNIE 11-10-675 on verification capabilities, will be ready July 18.

Mr. Bohlen thought we should somehow find a way for the U.S. Delegation to probe the Soviets to see what we could get from them on on-site inspection. He and Mr. Fisher thought the U.S. had clearly implied in previous communications with the Soviets that national capabilities would be sufficient for fixed installations, Mr. Bohlen thought we had also indicated that mobile systems would have to have on-site inspection, but Mr. Fisher and Dr. Scoville said this decision had not been taken. General Allison said the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that the earlier reference to “maximum reliance” on national capabilities left open the question of whether on-site inspection might be necessary even for fixed installations.

It was agreed, however, that the verification question should be addressed after we receive SNIE 11-13-68, although preliminary work could be started on the assumption, reinforced by the remarks of Mr. Clark of CIA, that the new SNIE would not make major changes from SNIE 11-10-67.

In connection with the verification question, Mr. Halperin said we should soon begin to address the question of what we say publicly and to members of Congress with respect to our existing national capabilities and suggested that the Bohlen Committee should address this question. Mr. Shaw felt we should wait awhile on this. Mr. Halperin did not agree. Mr. Clark pointed out that the Director of CIA has a statutory responsibility in this area which presents some problems unless a new look is taken at what we say about national capabilities. Mr. Fisher agreed that we should for the moment wait until we see how our position is developing before we address the question of some new decision by the Bohlen Committee.

Mr. Halperin said we needed to look at what we would do with any Soviet agreement to permit some kind of on-site inspection. He said we [Page 640] need to know what kinds we would want if we could get on-site inspection and we need to look at the kind we might be offered by the Soviets. It was agreed that ACDA would do a paper on this subject. Mr. Shaw said he had an input for such a paper concerning the negotiating problems on raising on-site inspection. Mr. Fisher agreed to have a working group look at this question, but did not want to give it priority over other issues that the Working Group has to address.

Mr. Halperin said one issue on verification we should be thinking about was what understanding we should have with the Soviets concerning the continuation of the capabilities for national verification; he said clearly we should have an understanding that neither side would interfere with certain existing national capabilities, and perhaps we should also have some form of understanding—though he recognized this was more difficult—that neither side would attempt to conceal what they are now not concealing. It was agreed the Working Group should give further thought to this issue.

Additional Studies

Mr. Fisher raised the question of additional studies or papers that the Working Group should have underway. He said ACDA would do a contingency paper on how we handled a Soviet “Gromyko proposal” should it be made in the bilateral talks.

Mr. Shaw circulated the following proposed work program:

Covering Memorandum to the President (draft last)6
Position Papers
Opening Statement (drafted and circulated)
Basic Position Paper (drafted and circulated)7
Modalities (drafted)
Background Papers
Military Effects Study (being drafted)
Economic Effects Study (being drafted)
Specialized Military Studies
Intelligence Estimate—SNIE 11-10-67, evaluating verification capabilities, is being up-dated.

Mr. Halperin said DOD was doing a military analysis paper. He said he hoped to circulate soon an uncleared version of this paper.

It was agreed that with respect to allied consultations we would have to prepare a cable to USRO for the NAC Meeting of July 15, in which [Page 641] we would give Cleveland guidance that would indicate to him that he could not expect to treat the strategic talks as we had the NPT as far as consultations were concerned. State and ACDA were to draft this message.

Mr. Halperin said DOD wanted a study on what the Soviet military posture is likely to be, assuming an agreement of the State-ACDA type. He said this study should address what the Soviets are technically capable of doing within the framework of a State-ACDA type of agreement and also what they are likely to do. He said this would be complementary to a study DOD is doing of what they would be likely to do without an agreement. Mr. Shaw said this would have to be balanced by an assessment of what the U.S. could also do, and Mr. Halperin said this part would be done by DOD as part of its analysis.

(Mr. Halperin mentioned in the course of the discussion that DOD’s thinking was that the agreement would have to prevent silo hardening rather than attempt to prevent increase in the size of holes since it would be most difficult to determine whether holes were increased in size if construction for hardening was taking place.)

With respect to the DOD suggested study, Dr. Scoville said the technical facts would not be difficult to assemble and could be done very quickly but that the basic question of a judgment on what the Soviets would do with technical capability would be the critical issue and might take more time. Mr. Clark agreed to prepare terms of reference and consult with other members of the group on them and to aim at a target date of August 1 for the paper.

Mr. Halperin said the Working Group should also be thinking about what our position should be if, after a period of time, the ChiComs continued their strategic buildup; he said clearly we would not want to continue a Soviet-U.S. agreement indefinitely without modification in this event, and that we should provide in some way in the agreement for an understanding to this effect. It was agreed further thought should be given to this point.

Mr. Shaw said that while we are waiting for DOD/JCS views on the basic position paper we ought to be reviewing it to see if any “corrections” need to be made of a factual nature. Mr. Clarke said there were some more recent figures that should be incorporated in the paper and he would be in touch with Dr. Scoville.

Other Matters

Mr. Bohlen raised the question of the impending initiation of MIRV testing in August and said this might well coincide with the opening of the strategic talks. He said he felt that these tests should be postponed. He said that as a minimum they should not be publicized in the manner presently contemplated. Mr. Halperin noted that the draft paper on the [Page 642] public announcement of MIRV testing had not yet been cleared in DOD. Mr. Fisher said we ought to look at this question at a further meeting.

Next Meeting of Working Group

It was agreed the Working Group would meet next week with the exact time to be set by telephone. Mr. Fisher said he would want to consult with members of the Working Group by telephone in the meantime on other questions that we might need to look at.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 383, Central Policy File: FRC 85 A 83, Working Group-Strategic Arms Talk-Meeting, July 10, 1968. Secret; Exdis. No drafting information appears on the source text. A July 9 date on the source text has been corrected by hand to read July 10.
  2. President Johnson was in Honolulu for talks with President Thieu of South Vietnam July 18-20.
  3. Probably John Shaw, Special Assistant for Communist Politico-Military Affairs (G/PM).
  4. Document 257.
  5. “U.S. Capabilities to Monitor Certain Limitations on Strategic Weapons Program,” February 14, 1967. (Johnson Library, National Security File, National Intelligence Estimates, Box 4)
  6. Not found.
  7. See footnote 3, Document 252, for the opening statement and the basic position paper.