125. Paper Prepared in the Office of the Secretary of Defense1

FY 72 Safeguard Review

I. Introduction

This paper is in response to the President’s direction to review the Safeguard program annually in accordance with his public commitment of March 14, 1969.2 The review covers:

  • —technical problems and progress;
  • —changes in the threat; and
  • —progress in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.

The President has asked that the review be considered by the Defense Program Review Committee prior to submission to the NSC.3

II. Summary

Principal findings of the review are summarized below:

  • —Safeguard supports the President’s publicly announced defense objectives and the U.S. criteria for strategic sufficiency.4 In particular, an area ABM defense is required to satisfy the strategic sufficiency criterion—“deploy defenses that limit damage from small attacks or accidental launches to a low level.”
  • —The technical progress on Safeguard has been very good. There are no technical problems which would affect a decision to proceed with the Safeguard deployment in FY 72.
  • —Construction of the Grand Forks and Malmstrom sites is proceeding on the authorized schedule with 30–40% of the Grand Forks radar construction completed and construction now being started on Malmstrom. Contracts for 50–60% of the equipment have been awarded for these sites. Construction for Whiteman, approved for the FY 71 budget, will begin in 1971.
  • —Of the $3.8 billion approved through FY 71, $3.1 billion has been obligated and $1.9 billion has been expended as of December 31, 1970. Since last Spring’s cost estimate to complete the total 12-site program the costs have risen by $2.5 billion (from $12.3 to $14.8 billion) as a result of further stretch-out, inflation and revised cost estimates.
  • —The Soviet threat has continued to evolve both numerically and technologically since Safeguard was conceived (early 1969). During this period, the Soviets continued to test the 3-RV payload for the SS–9 and in recent months the testing has demonstrated a capability for controlled flexible targeting. Also, during this period, the SS–11 has been tested with new payloads evidently intended for defense penetration. Construction of Yankee-class submarines has continued at about 8 boats per year and a new long-range missile evidently intended for naval use has been test fired.
  • —During this period of rapid increase in Soviet offensive capability, Safeguard deployment has been stretched out because of difficulties in obtaining Congressional authorization.
  • —The U.S. tabled in SALT a proposed arms limitation agreement covering both strategic offensive and defensive systems. Included as a part of this package was the option to limit ABM deployments to either zero or an NCA defense level.5 This proposal has not been accepted by the Soviets. The Soviets have proposed an NCA only ABM agreement, without limitations on offensive forces. This proposal was not accepted by the U.S. because it did not include limitations on offensive systems.
  • —We have increased confidence in our previous estimates of Chinese threat developments that support the rationale for deployment of a light area ABM defense of the U.S.
  • —Because (a) successful technical progress has been made, (b) the Soviet threat has continued to grow over the past year, and (c) SALT has not given us reason as yet to reorient the Safeguard program, we are requesting in FY 72 a continuation of the 4-site program and authorization [Page 388] of advanced preparation for the Washington, D.C. site. Because the Soviet ICBM threat is currently at a numerical level such that technically feasible qualitative improvements alone could render the 4-site Minuteman defense insufficient by the time it could be deployed (1977), we are also requesting advanced development for a Hard-Site Defense to augment Safeguard protection of Minuteman if required.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]

VI. Developments in SALT

The U.S. and Soviets began negotiations aimed toward limiting strategic arms on November 17, 1969 at Helsinki. During the summer of 1970 at Vienna, the U.S. offered two approaches, one aimed toward quantitative and qualitative limitations on offensive and defensive strategic weapons and one aimed toward strategic force reductions. When the Soviets failed to accept either of these approaches we put forward on August 4, 1970 a less comprehensive proposal in an attempt to achieve an early agreement. In effect this proposal would have given up area defense and Minuteman defense and limited ABM on both sides to defense of areas around the national capitals, if the Soviets would stop numerical increases in their strategic offensive systems. During the November–December 1970 round of talks in Helsinki the Soviet Union continued to re-emphasize their “Basic Provisions” on offensive and defensive systems and avoided discussion of specific numerical limitations on strategic forces. They did not accept the main provisions of the U.S. August 4 proposal and on December 4, 1970, proposed an agreement which would simply limit the deployment of ABM systems to defense of the the national capitals—Washington and Moscow. They stated that our negotiations could continue after such an ABM agreement, in an attempt to reach an “understanding” on strategic offensive systems. The U.S. did not accept the Soviet proposal, because it would force the U.S. to give up Safeguard but would not require any limitation on Soviet offensive systems which Safeguard was planned, in part, to counter.

Safeguard is designed to achieve a number of U.S. strategic objectives. Unless an acceptable SALT agreement is reached, which effectively removes the necessity for Safeguard, it is important to retain the momentum of Safeguard in order to satisfy strategic requirements and also to strengthen the chances of successful SALT negotiations. Continued orderly and timely prosecution of the program would make the system available at the earliest date to counter the Soviet threat to our retaliatory forces. Cutbacks in Safeguard could reduce the Soviet incentive to negotiate reductions or limitations on their offensive systems.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–007, Verification Panel Meeting Safeguard 1/16/71. Top Secret. Packard sent the paper to the White House under a covering memorandum requesting a meeting of the Verification Panel to discuss the inclusion of a Washington D.C. site in the proposed FY 72 program. Haig forwarded the paper to Kissinger on January 15.
  2. See Document 6.
  3. No record of a DPRC meeting about Safeguard before the January 27 NSC meeting has been found.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 24.
  5. See Document 100.