162. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Soviet Line on SALT

For your information the Soviets in various private talks in the last days in Vienna seem intent on establishing the following points:

  • —The Soviet delegation leadership (Semyonov, Timerbaev, and Kishilov) all knew of the private negotiations and are “perplexed” that our side seems not to be well informed about the course of these negotiations or what was agreed.
  • —The ABM agreement will be a separate “treaty.”
  • —The ABM level can not be zero, but has to be equal; this means two-for-two sites, or at least the “right” of each side to have two sites, if that is the American position; they understand that NCA has been “withdrawn.” Each side might designate the geographical area for its ABM provided there was equality.
  • —Offensive and defensive controls will be linked in “time” and there will be negotiations concerning both, but offensive restraints will not be in the agreement.
  • —The May 20 agreement2 “implicitly” recognized the problem of allowing modernization and replacement; the Soviets will have much more to say on this in Helsinki.

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Comment: There is, of course, some posturing on the Soviet side about being “in” on the private negotiations, but their comments suggest that they have been told to nail down certain details along lines preferred by the Soviets. In particular, their post-May 20 instructions seem to suggest that any ABM agreement is regarded as a separate instrument.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 881, SALT, SALT talks (Helsinki), Vol. XV, May 1–July 1971. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the memorandum indicating that he saw it.
  2. See Document 160.