252. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Head of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Delegation in Helsinki (Smith)1

WTE 16. Subject: SLBM.

We cannot accept 48 modern submarines as Soviet base point, if they insist that this includes only Y class or newer. It is imperative for Congressional reasons that there must be some retirement of H and G classes involved in Soviet reaching level of 62. For this reason, Soviet base point should be about 41–43, which corresponds to real situation.
It is also imperative that total of 950 for Soviets includes modern missiles no matter on what submarine they are deployed.
Phrasing in our proposals on procedures for dismantling and replacement must be amended to permit us to lay keels of ULMS without having to destroy Polaris.
You should act on these points immediately; these instructions will also follow through normal channels.2
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Box 427, NSC Files, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972, SALT. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Flash.
  2. In telegram 89509, May 21, the Department transmitted these “supplementary SALT instructions” to the delegation in Helsinki, noting that point 3 was consistent with NSDM 167 which did not require the start of destruction or dismantling of old launchers until the launch of the new submarine. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 18–3 FIN (HE)