138. National Security Decision Memorandum 1021


  • The Members of the National Security Council
  • The Attorney General
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Instructions for Strategic Arms Limitations Talks At Vienna (SALT IV)

After careful consideration of the issues set forth in the National Security Council Meeting on March 8,2 the President has made the following decisions.

Part I

The United States Delegation should begin discussions in Vienna by attempting to get further amplifications of the Soviet position. The United States Delegation should continue to negotiate along the lines [Page 422] of our August 4 proposal3 and in accordance with established instructions as modified by the following directions.

It should be made clear that the United States cannot accept a separate ABM agreement and continues to adhere to the principle that offensive and defensive systems must be linked. In this connection, the Chief of the U.S. Delegation should convey to the Chief of the Soviet Delegation that the United States is prepared to discuss the details of the ABM part of any agreement as a matter of priority to facilitate continuing negotiations on offensive forces. The U.S. proposal for a complete ban on ABMs remains valid and the U.S. Delegation should explain what this would involve for both sides. At the same time, we should discuss the requirements and constraints involved in an NCA system (Washington and Moscow). Until there has been a discussion of details, we cannot choose between zero or NCA levels.
The Chief of the U.S. Delegation is directed to propose in private to the Chief of the Soviet Delegation that the ABM portion of the agreement take into account existing systems or systems under construction. In this connection, the U.S. proposes limiting the U.S. to the authorized Safeguard defense of its retaliatory capability (e.g., four sites) and limiting the Soviets to the existing Moscow defense.4
The Chief of the U.S. Delegation is instructed to discuss in private the concept of a time limit on the agreement by pointing out the withdrawal and review provision in our proposal and probing Soviet views on the manner of dealing with the duration of an agreement.
The U.S. Delegation is authorized to agree to including U.S. B–52 bombers in storage within the aggregate only in exchange for Soviet agreement to include all bombers, however configured, of types included in the agreement.
The Delegation is authorized to respond as follows to the Soviet proposal of November 13 to ban strategic ballistic missiles on the seabeds:5 “The U.S. and USSR would undertake not to develop ballistic [Page 423] missile launchers for use on, nor to deploy such launchers on, the seabed within the 12-mile seabed zone or on the beds of internal waters, that is, waters between the baseline of the territorial sea and the coast and waters landward of the coast, including lakes and rivers. This prohibition would apply to the emplanting or emplacing of any ballistic missile launchers on the seabed or waterbed, or in the subsoil thereof, including ballistic missile launchers carried by vehicles which can navigate only when in contact with the seabed or waterbed.”
In discussing ways to increase the reliability and reduce the vulnerability of the Washington–Moscow direct communications link, the U.S. position is as follows:
Provision should be made for multiple terminals on each side;
Provision should be made for at least one communication link which would be independent of third countries. The Delegation should propose a primary link using Intelsat, while retaining the existing link as backup;

A joint U.S.–USSR technical study should be undertaken to assess the desirability over the longer term of developing and deploying a joint communication satellite system designed to provide an optimum Washington–Moscow direct communications link.

Any Soviet proposal for the establishment of additional communication links dependent on third countries should be referred to Washington for further study.


The Delegation is also authorized to discuss informally the following additional modifications to the U.S. proposal.

When the Delegation has determined informally the nature of a quid pro quo which the Soviets appear willing or likely to accept in return for the modification, the tradeoff must then be approved in Washington.

Drop the 1,710 sub-limit on missiles and raise the aggregate to 2,000.
Simplify corollary constraints on silo modifications by eliminating the associated list of indicators.
Subject to agreement on procedures for dismantling, destruction and consultation, drop the provisions for advance modification [notification?] of:
Deployment of new bomber types;
Deployment of new types of non-ICBM land-mobile ballistic missile systems;
Deployment of new SAM systems;
Substitution of missile launchers or heavy bombers.
Drop the requirement for advance notice of ABM R&D flight tests.
Drop explicit reference in the list of duties of the proposed Joint Commission which allows one party to “request” selective direct [Page 424] observation. However, the reference to invitational inspections would remain.

Part II

The Delegation is directed to exert maximum effort to achieve progress in the talks on the basis of the August 4 proposals as modified by the provisions of Part I of this memorandum. In the event it becomes apparent after approximately four weeks that adequate progress cannot be made, the President will be prepared to entertain recommendations for alternative approaches. At that time the President will consider such modifications as reducing the number of Safeguard sites for the U.S. and increasing the modern, large ballistic missile limit to take into account the current status of Soviet deployments.
Previous directives concerning the privacy of the talks and public comment on them are reaffirmed. The President directs that any comment concerning prospects for agreement be strictly confined to the President’s statements in his Press Conference of March 4, 1971.6
Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDMs 97–144. Top Secret; Nodis; SALT. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the senior members of the U.S. SALT Delegation.
  2. See Document 137.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 104.
  4. On March 16 Smith sent the following message to Rogers: “Phil Farley advised me by phone of the importance that Part I–B of NSDM 102 be forcefully carried out by me. I assure you and the President that this instruction (as well as all other SALT instructions) will be fully and forcefully carried out.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA Files: FRC 383–97–0010, Director’s Files, Smith Files, Chronological File, Smith/Rogers Correspondence, October 1970–November 1971)
  5. During autumn 1970 final revisions were made to a treaty prohibiting placement of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction on the seabed and ocean floor beyond a 12-mile coastal zone. In telegram 191560 to USUN, November 20, 1970, the Department forwarded the final text of the UN General Assembly resolution commending the Seabed Arms Control Treaty. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–6) The UN resolution passed on December 7, 1970. The Seabed Arms Control Treaty was opened for signature in Washington, London, and Moscow on February 11, 1971, and entered into force on May 18, 1972. (23 UST 701)
  6. During his March 4 press conference, Nixon stated that he would express neither optimism nor pessimism over when an agreement would be reached. He believed, however, “that there will be an agreement eventually between the United States and the Soviet Union” that included both offensive and defensive weapons. For the full text of Nixon’s remarks, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, p. 394.