245. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • Soviet Cruise Missile Submarine in Cuban Post

Good U–2 photography shows that the submarine in the Cuban port of Antilla is a E–II class: that is, a nuclear-powered, cruise missile sub with 8 tubes of 250 mile range. Previous reporting from sightings in the Atlantic had suggested that the submarine going to Cuba along with the tender would be a F–Class diesel, attack submarine. The E–II is tied up along side the submarine tender.

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What does it mean?

  • First of all, there has been a similar E–II class in Cuban ports, including Cienfuegos in May 1970. But, of course, this is the first offensive missile submarine in Cuban waters or ports since the imbroglio of last fall.
  • Second, this time it was announced as a visit of a “submarine” to “replenish stocks.” This comes awfully close to saying that it is being “serviced” from Cuba.

It has not yet gone to Cienfuegos so technically the Soviets may feel that they are skirting the “naval base” issues. Moreover, the E–II is an in-between type which the Soviets may consider useful for feeling our tolerance.

It could be:

  • —that this is the pound of flesh that Brezhnev has had to pay the military for his recent SALT agreement;
  • —it could be another round of tit for tat, in view of our demonstration in the Baltic, which the Soviet press picked up and attacked;2
  • —the Soviets may be engaged in their time-honored habit of using the détente surrounding SALT to garner some benefits on the side.

In any case, it will probably become public, and stir up again the whole question of what, exactly, is the nature of the understanding with the Soviets.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 128, Country Files, Latin America, Cuba [2]. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information.
  2. Izvestia published a column on May 22 that underscored the “provocational nature” of recent U.S. naval movements in the Baltic. For the condensed English text, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXIII, No. 21 (June 22, 1971), p. 19.