53. Note From President Ford to the Soviet Leadership1

The United States believes that major progress toward a new agreement limiting strategic offensive arms through 1985 should be made during the discussions with Secretary Kissinger in Moscow. Our aim is to lay the groundwork for agreement at the highest level on the principal objectives of a new agreement; this would provide the delegations in Geneva with a framework for developing a final agreement during 1975.

In this light the US side suggests that the following general approach to a new agreement be discussed in the Moscow talks.

1. Both sides would agree to make a maximum effort, primarily through a combination of reductions and other limitations, to establish a viable strategic balance.

2. This approach would require a phased reduction in the total number of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers:

a. The numerical limits of the Interim Agreement would remain in effect without change until October 1977.

b. Over a five year period beginning at that time (October 1977), both sides would agree to reduce their ICBMs and SLBMs and heavy bombers to no more than 2350 by 1982. Between the end of the Interim Agreement and 1982, the total number of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers cannot exceed 2500, and the total number of modern large ICBMs cannot exceed 300.

c. By the end of 1983, both sides would reduce to 2200.

d. By the end of 1983, both sides would reduce to no more than 250 heavy systems, including both heavy missiles and heavy bombers.

3. Both sides would limit the number of ICBMs and SLBMs equipped with MIRVs to 60 percent of their reduced forces, that is, no more than 1320 MIRV missiles; MIRVs will be banned on heavy ICBMs, and air-to-surface missiles with a range greater than 3,000 km will be banned from deployment on heavy bombers.

4. Both sides would agree to limit their total deployment of new ICBMs and SLBMs and heavy bombers, including those deployed for purposes of replacement or modernization, to no more than 175 missiles and bombers combined in any one year.

5. This provision as well as the numerical limit on missiles equipped with MIRVs would enter into effect with signing of the new agreement.

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6. There would also be agreement that the provision of the Interim Agreement prohibiting the construction of new ICBM silos should be incorporated into any new agreement.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 6, SALT, October 1974. No classification marking. According to marginalia, the note was handed to Dobrynin by Scowcroft and Sonnenfeldt at 2:15 p.m. on October 9.