229. Telegram From the Department of State to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Delegation in Helsinki1

85952. SALT/ACDA Only. For Ambassador Smith from Farley.

Al Haig called me after having discussed with Kissinger two matters taken up in your earlier secure phone conversation with him.2
As for summit attendance, Haig confirmed that it would not be feasible for the whole delegation to go to Moscow. A group of this size for one subject could not be considered. If you wanted to take one fellow with you, that could be considered, but Haig understood you would not want to try to select one and leave out the rest.
Haig then said he had reported to Henry your concern over the sharp Semenov reaction to your statement today on SLBM inclusion.3 Henry was also baffled, since the US approach accorded so closely with what the Soviets appear to want. Haig said he had not understood [Page 853] what explanation you saw for Semenov’s reaction, and I outlined your speculation that Semenov might have argued strongly with Moscow for omission of the specific number of 62 boats and felt that the rug was pulled out from under him when we specified that number. I added that Garthoff had also been struck by the chill in the Soviet attitude in discussing other issues today, and mentioned my personal speculation that this hard line might be an effort in the middle of the final week before the summit to put as much pressure on us as possible to warm things up and move in their direction.
Haig said Henry had asked that I pass on to you that this Semenov reaction should not be any cause for you to feel concerned that you might have gone too far or taken too hard a line.4 He sees no reason to depart in any way from today’s position.5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 18–3 FIN (HE). Secret; Nodis. Drafted and approved by Philip J. Farley, Deputy Director of ACDA.
  2. No record of these telephone conversations has been found.
  3. In SALT VII telegram 1329 from Helsinki, May 16, Smith reported that he had that day presented a new SLBM proposal to the Soviet delegation that suggested that during the period of the interim agreement the United States would have no more than 656 SLBM launchers on submarines operational and under construction, and the Soviet Union would have no more than 740 SLBM launchers on submarines operational and under construction, except that each party could have additional SLBM launchers as replacements for ICBM launchers of types first deployed before 1964. The United States would be permitted no more than 44 modern SLBM submarines operational and under construction and the Soviet Union could have no more than 62. Smith noted that Semenov’s initial reaction had been negative. Semenov said he would transmit the proposal to Moscow, but expressed “personal astonishment” that a side’s position on such a major issue could so easily be changed at this stage of the negotiations, and commented that this would hardly produce a “good impression” in Moscow. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 883, SALT Files, SALT (Helsinki), May–Aug. 1972, Vol. 18)
  4. In his description of this phase of the negotiations in his memoirs, Smith wrote that after being unsuccessful in persuading the White House that the delegation’s approach of limiting only launchers was better, he made a new proposal on May 16 that the freeze be on both submarines and missile launchers. The U.S. proposal added another new element—to require immediate replacement and to neutralize the Soviet claim to 48 modern submarines, the delegation devised and incorporated in the proposal replacement thresholds for SLBM launchers beyond which new launchers would be replacements and require dismantling of older launchers. Smith explained that the threshold figure of 740 Soviet launchers was based on an estimate that the Soviets had 640 launchers on 42 (not 48) modern submarines as well as 100 launchers on older G-and H-class submarines. After Semenov expressed his “astonishment,” Smith pointed out that they were now proposing what Brezhnev had originally wanted—a limit on submarines as well as on launchers. (Doubletalk, pp. 394–395)
  5. Telegram 87207 to Helsinki, May 17, transmitted the text of NSDM 167 and instructed the delegation to continue to press as long as possible for the U.S. position on limiting OLPARs. However, if the Soviets continued their insistence on an OLPAR ceiling of no less than 10 million watt-meters squared, it should withdraw the U.S. proposal and Smith should make a formal statement that the United States would view with “serious concern” future deployments of OLPARS with a potential greater than the MSR, except for purposes of space-tracking or national technical means. The delegation should also continue to press for the inclusion of mobile ICBMs in the interim agreement, and if unsuccessful, should withdraw the proposal and make a formal statement that the United States agreed to defer the question of specific limitations on mobile ICBM launchers, but would consider the deployment of operational mobile ICBM launchers during the period of the interim agreement as inconsistent with its objectives and as jeopardizing its continued validity. If the Soviets continued to reject inclusion of covered facilities for submarines, the delegation should withdraw the U.S. proposal and make a formal statement along the lines of the current proposal. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 18–3 FIN (HE))