100. Editorial Note

On November 10, 1969, at 3:15 p.m., the National Security Council met to discuss the upcoming preliminary round of strategic arms limitations talks, which opened in Helsinki on November 17. The minutes of the meeting are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972.

After the NSC meeting, President Nixon issued National Security Decision Memorandum 33, which spelled out the US objectives as follows:

“The United States is prepared to discuss (a) limitations on all offensive and defensive weapons systems, and (b) proposals the Soviets may advance for the work program. The Delegation should make it clear that in accepting subjects for further discussion the United States is not thereby committed to the inclusion of any given measure of limitation in a final agreement either individually or in combination with others. The President will make the judgment on what limitations are acceptable, and he will do so in light of the criteria for strategic sufficiency set forth in NSDM 16, the evaluations of the Verification Panel, and other considerations he deems pertinent.” The full text of NSDM 33 is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972.

Issued June 24, NSDM 16 listed four criteria: “1) maintain high confidence that our second strike capability is sufficient to deter an all-out surprise attack on our strategic forces; 2) maintain forces to insure that the Soviet Union would have no incentive to strike the United States first in a crisis; 3) maintain the capability to deny to the Soviet Union the ability to cause significantly more deaths and industrial damage in the United States in a nuclear war than they themselves would suffer; and 4) deploy defenses which limit damage from small attacks or accidental launches to a low level.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda, Nos. 1–50) NSDM 16 is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972.