254. Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 5. Ref: Tohak 20.2 Have just now read your report on the NSC meeting. There are several points I want to emphasize strongly to the President. First, we have had two Verification Panels and four NSC meetings at which agreed options were developed.

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Second, the President approved, at DOD urging, Option 4 which includes a ban on submarine launched SLCMs beyond 600 KMs and this was submitted to the Soviets in writing. Thus, we cannot simply repudiate it.

Third, the President approved as a fallback Option 3 including the numbers for a Backfire/surface ship trade-off. I submitted a modified Option 3 which is much more advantageous to the US. We cannot blithely sweep away these numbers after discussing them with the Soviets. The JCS first complained the SLCM numbers were too low, that they might want hundreds of surface SLCM platforms. Now they say the numbers are too high, they’ll have only eight. The whole concept of the grey area is being challenged after being proposed by Rumsfeld and approved at the NSC meetings.

Fourth, it makes no sense at all to keep asking for new papers from the JCS. The only result will be piling up a record that will be used against us later. Finally, as I reported in my last message, I intend to listen to Brezhnev’s presentation this morning and to concentrate on cruise missiles.

I strongly request that the President reconvene the NSC and lay down the law. He should recount the record of the past two months, the fact that unanimous agreement was reached on Option 4, that he personally approved Option 3, that what I have offered is better, that I was authorized to deal with SLCMs and Backfire as a grey area, and that now the whole concept is being undone by irresponsible and totally new ideas. You should inform the President that under these conditions I will not reach any agreement here and will simply bring all of the issues back to Washington. No matter what the Soviet reply, I have been driven to a deferral option which is less favorable to us than what we have tabled and which has already been rejected.

Please make sure the President knows my thinking including this message.

  1. Source: Ford Library, Cheney Files, Box 11, General Subject File, 1974–77, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks—General, 1/76–2/76. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. Document 253.