243. Note From President Ford to the Soviet Leadership1
The United States has re-examined the outstanding issues in the negotiations for a new strategic arms limitations agreement based on the Vladivostok accords. In order to facilitate the discussion between Secretary Kissinger and General Secretary Brezhnev in Moscow, the United States believes the following represents an equitable resolution [Page 905] of the current differences over limits on cruise missiles and the Soviet bomber known as “Backfire.”
With respect to cruise missile limitations, the following provisions would apply:
1. Any heavy bomber equipped with cruise missiles of a range greater than 600 km and up to 2500 km would be considered as the equivalent of a MIRVed missile and therefore each such bomber would be counted in the ceiling of 1320 MIRVed missiles.
2. Similarly, any surface ship equipped with cruise missiles with a range greater than 600 km and up to a range of 2500 km would also be considered the equivalent of a MIRVed missile and therefore each ship would also count against the ceiling of 1320 MIRVed missiles.
3. Air-launched cruise missiles on heavy bombers or cruise missiles on surface ships with a range greater than 2500 km would be banned.
4. No air-launched cruise missile with a range greater than 600 km could be deployed on any aircraft other than a heavy bomber.
5. Cruise missiles with a range greater than 600 km would be banned from deployment on any submarine, as proposed by the Soviet side.
6. The US suggests that the previous understanding permitting land-based cruise missiles up to intercontinental range be reconsidered; consistent with the new US proposals concerning limitations on other cruise missiles, the US believes that the development and deployment of land-based cruise missiles be limited to a range no greater than 2500 km.
The foregoing limitations on cruise missiles represent a significant movement toward the Soviet position and a compromise which should meet Soviet concerns.
As for the question of the “Backfire” bomber, the US believes that a compromise on this issue is also called for, along the following lines:
a. The US would agree that no Backfire aircraft produced prior to the entry into force of the new Agreement (October 3, 1977) would be counted in the ceiling of 2400 strategic delivery vehicles.
b. Subsequent to the entry into force of the new Agreement, all Backfire aircraft produced would be counted in the ceiling of 2400, under the same procedures agreed for counting other bombers included in the 2400.
The US has put forward these new proposals on the assumption that there will be an agreement on the question of verification of MIRV ICBMs and SLBMs along the lines already conditionally accepted by the Soviet side in discussions with Secretary Kissinger. Moreover, the US also proceeds from the assumption that there will be a satisfactory [Page 906] agreement on defining a heavy missile as any ICBM having a launching weight or a throw weight greater than the Soviet ICBM known as the SS–19.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 91D414, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 15, Misc. Docs, Tels, Etc. 1975 (Folder 6). Secret. According to marginalia, Kissinger gave the note to Dobrynin on January 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Department of State. No substantive record of the meeting between Kissinger and Dobrynin has been found.↩