169. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) to Secretary of Defense Laird 1
- US Position for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Helsinki SALT V)
- The views and recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been established and forwarded to you on a broad range of matters relating to strategic arms limitations in general and to the current Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and the USSR in particular. However, in consideration of the joint US/USSR 20 May 1971 announcement—which serves to focus SALT in a framework which conceivably could result in relatively early agreement—and the work underway to develop a US position for the resumption of negotiations on 8 July 1971 (Helsinki SALT V), the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it desirable that they set forth specifically their views on anti-ballistic missile (ABM) limitations, certain offensive limitations, and the type of agreement needed to carry out the 20 May announcement. It should be emphasized that these positions have been developed in the context of the joint US/USSR 20 May announcement; they do not reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the full range of issues associated with SALT.
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff understand clearly that the joint US/USSR 20 May announcement means that the United States and the USSR will seek to negotiate an agreement limiting the deployment of ABMs together with certain measures to limit strategic offensive weapons; this is understood to mean that the two agreements—regardless of form—should take effect simultaneously and that no separate ABM agreement will be made unless the Soviets agree to the offensive limitations.
- With respect to an agreement limiting defensive systems (strategic
ABM systems), the Joint Chiefs
of Staff believe that as a minimum the agreement should:
- Permit the United States and USSR each to have up to four ABM sites, with no more than 400 launchers/interceptors divided among the four sites.
- Permit the USSR to have not more than one site west of the Ural Mountains, with a maximum of 100 launchers/interceptors deployed at that site; and that site would be NCA Moscow. The United States would be permitted not more than one site east of the Mississippi River, with a maximum of 100 launchers/interceptors deployed at that site; and that site would be NCA Washington, D.C.
- ABM sites east of the Ural Mountains for the USSR and west of the Mississippi River for the United States must be geographically positioned for the defense of deployed fixed land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
- All controlled ABM components (missiles, launchers, and tracking and guidance radars) would be required to be located within 100 kilometers of each specified site.
- Retain the option, regardless of the number of ABM sites permitted, for the United States at a later date to inactivate a Safeguard site and to construct an NCA Washington site.
- Soviet Hen House radars should be limited to those operational and under construction, and the United States would retain the right to construct an equivalent system.
In arriving at their position on ABM limitations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have taken into account the clearly expressed USSR preference for NCA levels of defense on each side and, in particular, for an NCA defense of Moscow. At the same time, they have taken into account the US ballistic missile defense deployment to date and the US strategic purpose of defending a part of its strategic retaliatory forces. The position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is equitable for the United States and the USSR in all ways:
- It takes account of developments and deployments on both sides, b. It provides equal options on each side without requiring the exercise of these options, and
- It promotes strategic stability by providing options for defense of strategic retaliatory forces.
On this latter point, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe four site ICBM defenses would serve the purposes of strategic arms limitation and would provide an acceptable strategic posture when taken together with certain offensive limitations. Were the Soviets to exercise their option to defend a part of their strategic missile silos east of the Ural Mountains, this should not be viewed—considering the offensive forces on each side—as tending to upset the strategic balance.
- In addition, the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, recommends that both the United States and the USSR would be allowed to deploy terminal defense ABMs limited to the dedicated point defense of land-based retaliatory missiles and clearly not capable of providing urban protection.
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the specification of
limitations in the interim agreement on measures to limit offensive
forces—the “together-with” agreement which is to accompany an ABM
[Page 520] agreement—should be as
simple as possible, consistent with clear understanding; should take
account of the negotiating history to date; and should assure that
the security interests of the United States are fully protected or
enhanced. Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that as a
minimum the “together-with” provisions on offensive limitations to
accompany an ABM agreement specify
- The United States and the USSR agree not to exceed the aggregate total of ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) operational as of 8 July 1971 or the earliest feasible date thereafter that agreement can be reached, but not later than 31 December 1971.
- The United States and the USSR agree to equal totals of modern large ballistic missiles (MLBMs) at a level not to exceed the number of Soviet MLBMs operational as of 8 July 1971 or the earliest feasible date thereafter that agreement can be reached, but not later than 31 December 1971. An example of specific wording for the recommended offensive force interim limitation is contained in the Appendix hereto.2
- The Chief of Staff, US Army, and the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, believe that it is militarily undesirable to allow the Soviets to continue their dynamic, ongoing land- and sea-based launcher construction program within an aggregate, permitting the replacement of aging, perhaps obsolescent, ICBM and SLBM launchers. Therefore, they recommend that construction of all strategic offensive missile launchers be halted as of a specified date and for the duration of the interim agreement. This position is based on the proposition that the initial agreement will be an interim one not extending beyond 2 years. If no comprehensive agreement is reached in that period, it would be necessary to alter the interim agreement to provide for freedom to mix and for US development of MLBMs. Therefore, the Chief of Staff, US Army, and the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, believe the Appendix should read: “The United States and the USSR agree to halt the construction of all strategic offensive missile launchers as of (a specified date).”
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the agreement on ABMs and the accompanying interim agreement on certain measures for the limitation of offensive strategic weapons must be in the form of appropriate formal written documents. In order to insure that the Soviets negotiate constructively toward a more comprehensive agreement on offensive forces, the agreement on ABMs must contain a time limitation that will result in automatic cancellation of the ABM limitations, [Page 521] if a more comprehensive agreement on limitation of strategic offensive forces were not concluded within 2 years. Similarly, the “together-with” agreement on offensive forces would carry an automatic 2-year escape option. In other words, both the ABM agreement and the interim agreement on strategic offensive forces would lapse automatically if no comprehensive agreement on offensive limitations has been negotiated within 2 years.
- As a general point, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wish to emphasize that all systems to be included in these agreements be carefully defined in order to prevent misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly recommend that the agreements should be paralleled during the course of their existence with an active program of hedges designed to avoid a deterioration of US security.
Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Source: Ford Library, Laird Papers, Box 26, SALT, Chronological. Top Secret; Sensitive. Moorer sent a draft of this memorandum covering the same points to the JCS on June 29 for approval. Another copy is in the National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Moorer, Box 52, 388.3, SALT.↩
- Attached but not printed is a draft text: “The US and USSR agree not to exceed the aggregate total of ICBMs and SLBMs operational as of 8 July 1971 or the earliest feasible date thereafter that agreement can be reached, but no later than 31 December 1971. The US and USSR also agree to equal total of MLBMs at a level not to exceed the number of Soviet MLBMs operational as of 8 July 1971, or the earliest feasible date thereafter that agreement can be reached, but no later than 31 December 1971.”↩