267. Telegram From the Head of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Delegation (Smith) to the Department of State1

SALT VII 1368. Subj: SmithSemenov Post Mini-plenary Conversation May 24.

In post meeting conversation today, Semenov remarked to Smith “off the record” that he had no information about the discussions of SALT taking place in Moscow. He said that he had tried unsuccessfully to reach Gromyko as late as midnight, and the foreign ministry knew nothing. He hoped to have further instructions some time in the afternoon. Smith said he was in a similar situation. Semenov said that it was a good thing that our leaders were discussing these matters. Semenov stated that he had instructions to conclude agreement here in Helsinki on all points. Smith said that he had the same guidance.
Semenov also indicated that he had no new instructions on the SLBM question. He did repeat that the Soviet side considered the number 48 important, that this figure did not place in doubt national [Page 1038]technical means of verification, and that the Soviet position is that putting into service additional SLBM launchers on modern submarines in the USSR would, beginning with the 49th submarine, be replacements for older types of ICBM or SLBM launchers. He also noted the Soviet proposal concerning details of SLBM limitation calling for a different form than the American proposal. He said the US proposals were being studied.
Smith noted that Soviets clearly knew US position on substance. As to matter of form, Smith expressed strictly personal and uninstructed view that it might be possible to change the form of the detailed SLBM presentation.
Semenov agreed with Smith on developing agreed positions on establishment of the standing consultative commission upon resumption of follow-on SALT talks. (Exchange on this subject reported septel.) Smith also read and handed Semenov “statement of the US side” denying validity of “earlier statement of the Soviet side,” concerning compensation for forward SLBM basing and allied submarines, using text provided in State 894562 (this statement and brief exchange is also reported septel).3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 883, SALT, SALT Talks (Helsinki), May–Aug 1972, Vol. #18. Secret; Immediate; Nodis/SALT. Repeated to Moscow for Rogers and Kissinger.
  2. Telegram 89456 from the Department of State to the U.S. SALT delegation in Helsinki, May 20. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram SALT VII 1369 from Helsinki to Kissinger and Rogers, May 24, Smith reported that during his post-meeting conversation with Semenov, he read and handed over the text of the following U.S. statement: “The United States side has studied ‘the statement of the Soviet side’ of May 17 concerning compensation for submarine basing and SLBM submarines belonging to third countries. The United States does not accept the validity of the considerations in that statement.” He said that Semenov replied that he understood the U.S. position and noted that the United States could consider the Soviet statement as a unilateral one. Smith reiterated that the Soviet statement was not acceptable. Semenov said that if there had been agreement, the statement would have been bilateral and he was sorry they could not reach agreement. (Ibid.)