9. Editorial Note
At a November 3, 1971, meeting of the interagency Verification Panel, a subgroup of the National Security Council chaired by Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger and responsible for arms control negotiations and policy recommendations, Kissinger informed the panel of the relationship between Strategic Arms Limitations Talks and the Moscow summit.
“Dr. Kissinger: I have just come from the President. He has confirmed that we will have an NSC meeting on SALT next week. The President clearly understands that some of the more reflective minds in this town realize what he has done to the SALT talks by agreeing to a summit meeting in Moscow. Some people are assuming that if an agreement is reached, it will be delayed so that it can be announced in Moscow in May. The President wants us to ignore these assumptions and go ahead as rapidly as possible. If an agreement is reached in advance of the summit meeting, we will then begin discussions on phase two of the talks. The important point is that we should do whatever is needed to get an agreement we want and can live with, and we should get it as quickly as possible. On the other hand, we should not take whatever we can get simply to try to come up with an agreement by May.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes, Originals)
The National Security Council Meeting was held on November 12 and dealt primarily with the anti-ballistic missile proposals and submarine launched ballistic missiles issues. (Ibid., Box H–110, NSC Minutes, Originals)
Kissinger and Gerard Smith, head of the delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, had a phone conversation at 2:20 p.m. on October 12, 1971, when the summit was first announced. Smith believed Kissinger and Nixon were taking over the SALT negotiations. Kissinger tried to assure Smith that SALT would be discussed at the May summit only if there was something left to be discussed. Smith suggested that by announcing that SALT would be discussed at the summit Kissinger and the President had ensured that would happen. (Transcript of a telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 369, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) Smith discusses this issue and other problems he had with the announcement in Doubletalk, pages 319–320.