226. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • SALT: Colby Analysis

Bill Colby has forwarded to you an analysis of how SALT II will fit into Soviet policy in 1976 and thereafter.2 We have underlined relevant passages and summarized a few below.

—The absence of a SALT Agreement would cause uncertainty about the future strategic balance, encouraging darker interpretation of US intentions.

—The absence of limitations would relieve the Soviets from the healthy necessity to dismantle older weapon systems.

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—The results would not necessarily be unmanagable for the US but would be greatly damaging to the prospects for positive long term change in the Soviet system.

—Moscow’s most serious cause for concern is what it views as the Administration’s lack of capacity to maintain détente.

Brezhnev will likely stay on after the Party Congress.

Brezhnev evidently has decided that another Arms Control Agreement, while desirable, is not essential.

—If Brezhnev leaves office, the uncertainty in Soviet leadership will encourage the Politburo to avoid risky decisions.

—If SALT II is suspended until 1977, the Soviets will probably have entered into a succession struggle. This process is likely to increase the weight of professional military opinion on strategic matters.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 6, SALT, Nov.–Dec. 1975. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Not attached. A December 5 memorandum from Colby to Kissinger, analyzing Soviet policy and SALT II, is attached to a memorandum from Scowcroft to Ford, December 15, summarizing it. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, 1974–1977, Box 20, SALT)