147. Memorandum From K. Wayne Smith of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Safeguard–Moscow Fallbacks

You asked for a brief paper laying out some potential ways to “fall back” from our opening position of four Safeguard sites.2 I have attached a chart which lays out some of the candidate positions in a very simple way and without analysis or argumentation.

There are several points which should be made concerning our discussion last evening:3

  • —To some degree we were mixing arguments in support of a four-site system with fallbacks. For example, we might argue that our 264 Sprint missiles are justified because of the 250 SS–9s allowed the Soviets. We might even give up our right to build 250 large, modern, missiles in this case.
  • —In considering a fallback on Safeguard, I think it is important that we determine conceptually the desired negotiating path. As I stated last evening, I believe that the relatively small strategic difference between four-site and, say, two-site Safeguard in combination with our concerns about Soviet ABMs dictate our reducing Safeguard in negotiation rather than allowing the Soviets more sites.
  • —Clearly there may be some point below which we are not interested, although it is not clear that we should not accept one Safeguard site with missiles, radars, etc., equal to the Soviet defense, given an appropriate offensive agreement. In any case, I think two sites is probably negotiable although we might have to allow equal numbers of missiles.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–007, Verification Panel Meeting SALT 4/9/71. Top Secret.
  2. Attached but not printed is Smith’s paper on Safeguard–Moscow fallbacks requested for the Verification Panel, which met on April 9 from 2:50 to 4:10 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. According to minutes of the meeting, the following conclusions were agreed upon: “a) to defer any change in tactics until Gerry Smith has returned for a period of consulation in early May; b) the Working Group would prepare a more precise definition of our Safeguard/Moscow proposal, with some alternatives; c) to get a military assessment of the relative advantages of four Safeguard sites vs. three vs. two.” (Ibid., Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 1969–3/8/72) On April 8 Smith sent Kissinger a briefing memorandum for the Verification Panel meeting. (Ibid., Box H–007, Verification Panel Meeting, SALT 4/9/71)
  3. No record of this discussion has been found.