136. Memorandum for the File by the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Smith)1


  • Conversation with the Secretary in his office on 3/1/71

In my conversation with the Secretary today, he told me he had seen the President, that the President definitely wanted an agreement. He doubted that the President would give me very much flexibility to negotiate until he had a better feel that an agreement was in sight. S. thought our ABM position was correct but for tactical reasons we ought to state it in terms of a preference. (I don’t think this is any different from the position I have been taking.) He stressed the need not to give any sense of urgency. He cited one case in the past where he thought a mistake had been made. He went over a number of the proposed changes in the August 4th position2 and did not seem to have any trouble. He agreed that we should try to get mobiles banned in return for surface ship deployments banned. I asked him if he would instruct his people not to disagree with me in the Verification Panel. He had Irwin come in and told him that he in general agreed with the position I was going to take. Irwin said that his one concern was on the vulnerability and instability of the agreement question. He ran through the list of fixes and said he thought perhaps the best bet was to negotiate for reductions in exchange for the Soviets being able to have mobile missiles. Both the Secretary and I took a dim view of letting mobiles run free.

I got the impression that the President would, if necessary, go for a ban on ABMs.

I told the Secretary about my draft of a letter to Kosygin.3 He seemed to agree with the notion, but suggested I strike out the reference to this year.

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After our talk I had a private talk with Irwin and pointed out that the procedure in this case had not been my idea. The Secretary had asked me some time ago to present a position. I had asked him if I should clear it in normal fashion with Irwin, and the Secretary said that he would prefer to see it himself first. The Secretary said he had shown the blue book to no one else, and gave it back to me.

I showed both Irwin and the Secretary my conclusions about Soviet ICBMs4 and the fact that there had been little or no deployment since Helsinki started in November of 1969. Neither of them had been aware of this.

The Secretary stressed that the President did not seem interested in an ABM only agreement.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA Files: FRC 383–97–0010, Box 1, Director’s Files, Smith Files, Chronological File, Smith/Rogers Correspondence, April 1970–December 1972. Secret; Nodis.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 104.
  3. On March 9 Sonnenfeldt sent to Kissinger a copy of Smith’s draft letter, which suggested the possibility of initial SALT agreements in a non-treaty form. In his covering memorandum, which was marked “urgent information,” Sonnenfeldt wrote: “I do not know whether you have solicited such a draft and whether a communication such as Smith suggests is under consideration. In my judgment, the idea of a letter of this kind would be worth considering somewhat later in the Vienna phase. Consequently, I recommend no further action at this time.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 880, SALT, SALT talks (Helsinki), Vol. XIV, January 1–April 1971)
  4. In a February 26 memorandum to the President, Smith provided his assessment of data taken from NIE 11–8–70 (see footnote 3, Document 121). Smith stated that the level of SS–9s and SS–11s that were operational and under construction had remained the same since November 1969. He further reported that while the SS–7 and SS–8 forces had decreased by 7 and 4, respectively, the number of SS–13s under construction had increased by 20. The net increase in the total Soviet ICBM force, he concluded, was 9 missiles. (Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA Files: FRC 383–97–0010, Director’s Files, Smith Files, Chronological File, SALT Developments, White House Views, February–June 1971)