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

SUBJECT

  • SALT Status

Following has been tentatively agreed at Helsinki:

1.
The Soviets will accept an agreed interpretive statement on Other Large Phased Array Radars (OLPARS) at our proposed cut off of three million (3 × 10 to the 6th power);
2.
We will accept an agreed interpretive statement that destruction or dismantling of old launchers must proceed when sea trials of the new submarine begins and should be done expeditiously;
3.
Both sides have shifted to accept an agreed interpretive statement that there will be no significant increase in external silo dimensions;2
4.
The U.S. reserved the right to make a unilateral statement on the definition of heavy ICBMs (after the Soviets indicated that they would not accept an agreed statement).3

This represents considerable movement by the Soviets and resolves many of the remaining issues.

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The SLBM issues and the location of the second Soviet ICBM defense site remain unresolved.4

SLBMS

Following is current U.S. position already presented to the Soviets in Helsinki. It includes both G and H Classes.

Article III

The parties undertake to limit submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and modern ballistic missile submarines to the numbers operational and under construction on the date of signature of this Interim Agreement, except that under agreed procedures the parties may construct additional SLBM launchers on additional modern ballistic missile submarines as replacements for ICBM launchers of older types constructed prior to 1964 or for SLBM launchers.

Protocol to the Interim Agreement Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Certain Measures with Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms:

The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, hereinafter referred to as the Parties,

Having agreed on certain limitations relating to submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and modern ballistic missile submarines, and to replacement procedures, in the Interim Agreement,

Have agreed as follows:

1.
The Parties understand that, under Article III of the Interim Agreement, for the period during which that agreement remains in force:
A.
Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (B.) of paragraph 1 of this Protocol, the U.S. shall have no more than seven hundred ten SLBM launchers on submarines operational and under construction and no more than forty-four modern ballistic missile submarines operational and under construction, and the USSR shall have no more than nine hundred fifty SLBM launchers on submarines operational and under construction and no more than sixty-two modern ballistic missile submarines operational and under construction.
B.
The U.S. and the USSR shall not exceed the above-mentioned limitations, except that in the process of modernization or replacement they may, under agreed procedures, have under construction additional SLBM launchers on additional modern ballistic missile submarines for [Page 1006]replacement of equal numbers of ICBM launchers of older types constructed prior to 1964 or equal numbers of SLBM launchers.
2.
This protocol shall be considered an integral part of the Interim Agreement.

Done at______ on______, 1972, in two copies, each in the English and Russian languages, both texts being equally authentic.

For the United States of America For the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
________ ________

Comment: This protocol specifies only ceilings and leaves aside what numbers are operational or under construction. Numbers operational or under construction would thus have to be handled by agreed definitions.

  • —Definition of “operational” would have to be framed to include only those that have completed fitting out trials and “under construction” would have to be defined to include only those submarines actually in sheds. Such a definition would mean about 41–42 Y-Class submarines.
  • —Since we can make a good estimate of those submarines already launched, no definition of “operational” is necessary, if we can agree on the numbers “under construction.” We would need a definition that excluded any boat not already in the sheds. Otherwise the Soviets will expand their base number to count parts of boats not yet in actual assembly halls.
  • —This route of defining “operational” or “under construction” would force the Soviet hand on how they calculated the 48 they claimed are operational or under construction.

Ceilings

Specified ceilings for the Soviets (62 boats and 950 missiles) would be temporarily exceeded in our proposal, because both sides can have under construction extra boats as eventual replacements for older launchers and dismantling would not start until completion of sea trials. This allows U.S. to start ULMs without dismantling or replacement.

Numbers

Assuming for the Soviets 41 Y-Class boats and about 624 SLBMs as of now, (36 Y-Class and 4 New Class) the dismantling of SS–7 and 8s ICBMs would allow an additional 17 submarines and 209 missiles. At least half of G and H would then have to be converted to reach 62 boats.

Soviet Objections To Our Proposal:

  • —Modern submarines do not by definition include G and H Class, because “modern” means built after 1965.
  • —Soviets claim they now have operational and under construction 48 modern submarines. (Seven above our present estimate.)
  • —This would mean an additional 14 boats could be constructed, requiring only dismantling of 168 older ICBMs (assuming each new boat has only 12 submarines). This would still leave Soviets short of total of 950 launchers (i.e. a level of about 876).

Possible Compromise

1.
To count as “modern” only H Class (i.e. only nuclear powered and with ballistic missiles).
2.
And to count G Class if replaced with “modern” launchers.

Our Objectives

1.
To include in agreement some provision or definition so that Soviets cannot have at least H Class fleet in current total.
2.
To include provision or understanding that if G and H fitted with “modern” missile (SS–N–6 or 8) that this will count in 950 total launchers.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 74, Kissinger Office Files, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Moscow Summit 1972 [1 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive. The memorandum is not initialed.
  2. In telegram SALT VII 1364 to Washington and Moscow, May 22, Smith reported that in two negotiating sessions that day, the Soviets maintained a firm position against an agreed definition of heavy ICBMs but were prepared to accept an interpretative statement reading: “The parties understand that in the process of modernizing and replacement there would be no significant increase in the dimensions of land-based ICBM silo launchers.” (Ibid., Box 883, SALT, SALT Talks (Helsinki), May–Aug. 1972, Vol. #18)
  3. In telegram SALT VII 1367 to Washington and Moscow, May 23, Smith reported that the U.S. delegation planned to make the following unilateral statement: “The US delegation regrets that the Soviet delegation has not been willing to agree on a common definition of a heavy missile. Under these circumstances, the US delegation believes it necessary to state the following: The United States would consider any ICBM having a volume significantly greater than that of the largest light ICBM now operational on either side to be a heavy ICBM. The US proceeds on the premise that the Soviets will give due account to this consideration.” (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 74, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Moscow Summit 1972 [1 of 2])
  4. SALT VII telegram 1367 also reported that the U.S. delegation was continuing to press for an agreed interpretative statement on the location of ABM defenses for ICBMs, and in conjunction with Article III on SLBM limitation was seeking an agreed interpretation of SLBM launchers “operational” and “under construction.”