120. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Senior Members, U.S. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Delegation


  • Instructions for Delegation at Helsinki (SALT III)

The President has decided that, in order to preserve bargaining leverage without indicating complete inflexibility on issues arising in the talks, the Delegation should inform the Soviets before the close of the Helsinki talks that:

  • —both sides have emphasized the need to limit both offensive and defensive systems in a Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement;
  • —with respect to the Soviet “Basic Provisions”2 for an agreement on limiting the deployment of ABM systems, we continue to believe that to achieve the purposes of these talks an agreement should include limits on both offensive and defensive systems;
  • —we expect to continue to negotiate toward the objective of limitations on both offensive and defensive forces;

and that:

  • —only after all the main elements of an initial agreement on central strategic systems have been worked out, would we consider it possible to assess mutually satisfactory ways in which actions by either side relating to other nuclear delivery systems could be prevented from upsetting the strategic balance.

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Our NATO Allies should be informed of these statements before they are given, if possible, or at about the time they are given.3 More complete consultations may be deferred until after the Helsinki phase of the talks is completed.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 336, Subject Files, Items to Discuss with the President, September 9–December 1970. Top Secret. A copy was sent to the Attorney General. The memorandum is attached to a list of items to discuss with the President, prepared by Richard Kennedy for Kissinger on December 18. Item 7, suggesting that Kissinger brief the President on the status of negotiations at Helsinki and on the Verification Panel meeting of December 8, was crossed out by an unidentified hand.
  2. See Document 72.
  3. Telegram USDEL SALT 531, December 17, contained the delegation’s final report on the Helsinki talks for circulation by letter to the NAC following the conclusion of the third round on December 18. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 879, SALT, SALT talks (Helsinki), Vol. XIII, October–December 1970)