17. Minutes of a Review Group Meeting1


  • NSSM 28—Strategic Arms Limitation Talks


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • Richard F. Pedersen
    • Philip Farley
    • Donald McHenry
  • Defense
    • G. Warren Nutter
    • Ivan Selin
    • Yuan-li Wu
  • CIA
    • R. Jack Smith
  • JCS
    • Maj. Gen. Royal B. Allison
  • OEP
    • Haakon Lindjord
  • AEC
    • Allen Labowitz
  • USIA
    • Henry Loomis
  • ACDA
    • Gerard Smith
    • Spurgeon Keeny, Jr.
  • OST
    • Vincent McRae
  • Treasury
    • Anthony Jurich
  • NSC Staff
    • Morton Halperin
    • William Hyland
    • Winston Lord
    • Laurence Lynn
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt


It was agreed that the first NSC meeting on SALT would focus on the scope of an arms limitation agreement and on exposure to major issues, such as ABM, MIRV, verification, and bombers/air defense. Certain optional arms control packages shown in the Summary Report,2 plus ACDA’s Stop Where We Are proposal,3 would be used as illustrations of limited, intermediary, and comprehensive measures. Based on the first NSC examination of this topic and Presidential guidance, an executive committee would then draw up two or three concrete SALT packages for further NSC consideration. The Review Group went through the Summary NSSM 28 Report and agreed to several drafting [Page 51] additions and changes. The NSC staff would incorporate these modifications and check them with ACDA. The revised summary paper would then be recirculated to Review Group members for their concurrence for forwarding to the NSC.

General Discussion—NSC Handling

Kissinger had a general observation at the outset. He said that the NSSM 28 Report should represent a continuation of the NSSM 3 study,4 and was not competitive nor an alternative. The basic principles that govern consideration of our strategic force posture should govern our SALT preparations. Our general security objectives should be valid for both subjects. Some principles that are settled in the strategic forces discussion should be considered with the imminence of arms talks in mind. While we should not foreclose arms control options, neither should we construct two different frameworks.NSC meetings on these topics should lead logically from one to the other. He had considered inserting these points in the NSSM 28 summary report, but was not insistent upon this.

He then suggested that the group focus on what we were trying to achieve in the NSC meeting so as to make the paper more useful for NSC discussion. What decisions did we want the President to make, what issues should he principally focus on? He wondered, for instance, why the four options in the summary were selected when there could be many others. He asked G. Smith whether the intent was to give two illustrative options for a limited agreement and two for a comprehensive one.

G. Smith replied that the Steering Group had considered a broad spectrum of options,5 especially comprehensive ones, but the JCS had been convincing that it was preferable to concentrate on a more modest approach. Fewer options made strategic analysis an easier task. He had not thought of the four options as representing two limited agreement packages and two comprehensive ones, since he considered the first three rather limited and only the fourth one could be called comprehensive.

Allison believed that the third package was reasonably comprehensive, while the fourth one went further by banning MIRVs. He thought that the mix of the four packages raised most items for examination one way or another and constituted a fair document for analysis.

[Page 52]

G. Smith pointed out that none of the packages should be labeled negotiating positions; they were purely illustrative. Kissinger said that this answered one of his questions, for he did not believe that the President could be asked to pass on these options as negotiating packages. G. Smith thought that the first NSC meeting would be largely educational and would produce no specific negotiating decisions.

Kissinger agreed that the first meeting would treat fundamental issues in order to focus a second meeting on decisions. The question was which issues should be highlighted. He thought that the summary report’s packages were useful if they served to illustrate general principles, the sorts of packages that might come under a limited, intermediary or comprehensive agreement. He believed this gave G. Smith more flexibility, using the packages not as directives but rather as illustrations of general objectives. This would give G. Smith more room for varying the mix of the packages.

G. Smith responded that after the first NSC meeting he would like to see an executive committee focus on negotiating positions. These would not just be broad options, but rather two or three real life possibilities which the executive committee would take as long as was necessary to develop. He believed that with some Presidential guidance the committee could put together such real life proposals. In response to Kissinger’s question, he thought that the four options in the summary paper served the purposes of focusing discussion and illustrating the principles. He agreed with Kissinger that these should not be construed as negotiating positions but rather were examples,—e.g., option 1 illustrated a limited agreement, option 3 an intermediary one, and the Stop Where We Are (SWWA) proposal a comprehensive one.

Kissinger said that he had seen SWWA but understood that it had never been formally addressed in the interagency machinery. G. Smith said that there had been strategic and CIA analysis of this proposal. Kissinger commented that he had not seen this analysis and Keeny confirmed that SWWA had not been considered in the NSSM 28 machinery. G. Smith said that it had been tabled at the Steering Group. It could be one document to be considered as an option by the executive committee that he had proposed. Pedersen suggested that it could also be treated at the first NSC meeting, and G. Smith rejoined that this depended on how detailed a discussion the NSC would get into.

Kissinger did not want to throw at the President options on specific systems. The mind boggles at the possible combinations of negotiating positions, and it was not fair to ask the President to make specific choices. He himself did not fully understand the rationale of all the options in the paper. SWWA was a concern all by itself and should go before the President at some point. In addressing a fluid arms situation (as opposed to a complete halt) he believed we should think in [Page 53] terms of general criteria, using the study’s packages as illustrations to demonstrate what we mean by comprehensive and limited agreements. Once the President decides the scope of agreement he wishes, then the executive committee study could come up with realistic proposals.

G. Smith found this procedure satisfactory, and, if the JCS agreed, he suggested option 1 to illustrate a limited agreement, option 3 an intermediary one, and SWWA a comprehensive one. Selin interjected that the distinction between options 1 and 2 was quite arbitrary—if one limited a few weapons systems, there are many possible choices. However, he thought the distinction between options 3 and 4 had a certain logic. Option 4 was basically the SWWA proposal. Nutter believed, and Kissinger agreed, that these questions could not be considered separately from verification problems. Kissinger repeated that the options could be used as illustrations of general principles. Selin believed that options 3 and 4 were quite close to being negotiating positions (in structural terms) as opposed to the first two options.

Kissinger summarized that the first NSC discussion would center on general principles which would guide the composition of concrete proposals, while the second meeting would focus on the positions developed in the interim. Farley agreed; he noted that option 4 was closer to SWWA than it was to option 3. Allison also agreed that the first meeting should expose issues and examine certain critical features and then the executive committee could draft proposals. With regard to G. Smith’s suggestions on which options to use as illustrations, he did not believe that SWWA should be part of NSSM 28, for it had not received the same type of examination as the other packages.

Kissinger wondered what decisions should be made in the first meeting on the basis of the summary report. He suggested the scope of the agreement desired and MIRV and ABM-type questions as suitable subjects. G. Smith agreed that the first NSC meeting should resolve ABM levels and the question of a MIRV ban, for otherwise the executive committee could not develop proposals. Pedersen noted the importance of relating the ABM and MIRV questions to the different approaches. G. Smith added that verification should also get a great deal of attention. He had found it paradoxical that the verification problem was more manageable the greater the scope of the agreement. He would have thought that it might be just the opposite. Kissinger said that he was not surprised.

Kissinger summarized the group’s consensus that the first NSC meeting would examine the scope of an arms control agreement, and would expose the principals to the major issues, including ABM, MIRV, and verification. Selin declared that bombers and air defense should also be considered. With regard to this point, Kissinger wondered whether we knew what subjects the Soviets are likely to raise. G. Smith [Page 54] said that the Soviets last year had indicated an interest in bombers by saying that they wish to discuss “armaments” rather than merely “missiles”. Halperin remarked that this referred to offensive systems only. Selin agreed, and noted that we believed that if bombers were to be discussed, then air defenses would have to be also.

US and Soviet Objectives (IIA)

Kissinger asked the group whether it believed that the summary report provided an adequate basis for NSC discussion. Nutter replied that he had a problem with the discussion of US objectives. He believed that there should be mention of Soviet objectives in the summary report; this subject was covered in an annex. He passed out a suggested paragraph6 (to go between IIA and IIB) concerning Soviet motives and interests. He had some problems with the annex’s discussion of this subject, believing that a number of assumptions concerning the Soviet position were more positively stated than he would have thought possible. Perhaps there may be more than one Soviet objective and that these were not necessarily mutually exclusive. They might share our concerns but also have other objectives as well. This topic was important as negotiations go forward, so that we have a means to probe their intent. Kissinger commented that he was going to make the same point on Soviet objectives and asked G. Smith whether he had problems with Nutter’s suggestion. G. Smith replied that he did not, but J. Smith wished to reserve on this question. He wondered about the symmetry of the paper, with Soviet concerns getting fuller treatment than our own in the Nutter paragraph. The summary report deals with objectives, while the suggested additional paragraph delved into interests and motives. G. Smith thought that it was useful to recall that the Soviets have a number of objectives and interests, not all of them cooperative with us. He was not sure about the precise language but thought it was useful to make this point. There followed a brief discussion of this question which included Selin’s observation that the Soviets would save much money under arms control while we would not and J. Smith’s rejoinder that this depended on whether one considered the short term or long term. Nutter felt that his paragraph was necessarily asymmetrical with the one in the summary report, since we know our own objectives, but we do not know Soviet ones. J. Smith did not believe that the suggested language constituted a full analysis of Soviet interests, and Nutter replied that it purported only to be a summary. J. Smith said that he was happy to join OSD in drafting some language, and Pedersen said that State should have a look at this also. A balanced view was needed—it was more accurate to say that the Soviets do not want the [Page 55] relative strategic position to change in our favor rather than stating, as in the recommended paragraph, that they seek to improve their position. Nutter repeated that he did not agree with the Annex’s treatment of this question. Pedersen doubted that the Soviets were really striving to improve their position along the lines of Nutter’s language.

Kissinger preferred to show real differences of opinion rather than coming up with agreed language. He believed the paper should show that some believe that the Soviets want to improve their position while others interpreted their motives as stated in the Annex. Selin believed that the differences of view were not so great; in treating Soviet objectives one must compare the situation to one without an arms agreement. Kissinger said that one school believed that they wished to improve their relative strategic position through arms talks rather than an arms race, while a second school believed that they had essentially the same motives as we do. It was better to state this issue clearly than to fudge it.

G. Smith did not believe the issue was that serious. If the Soviets enter arms talks, it will be because they hope to improve their absolute position, whether strategic or economic. He thought it was useful to flag the fact that they might have interests that are not necessarily constructive for us, that we should be alert to the possibility that they are masking their real motives. J. Smith wondered what was the operative point in this issue. He believed that the principals had already considered these points. Allison thought a cautionary note about Soviet interests would be useful and was not necessarily inconsistent with the Annex. Nutter said that his language looked forward—it was more important for the negotiations themselves than for this paper. In considering the various packages we should keep in mind that the advantages we see in them won’t obtain if the assumptions prove wrong. Selin noted one operative difference—if the Soviets sought a better relative position versus us, then there would be a big problem.

Kissinger said that our analysis of the implications of arms control packages was more important than possible Soviet motives. He said that either disagreed positions on Soviet objectives could be inserted for the consideration of the principals or perhaps State/ACDA could accept the OSD language. G. Smith believed that stating disagreed positions would appear more mysterious than the issue really warranted. In response to Pedersen’s question, Keeny said that the treatment of Soviet motives in the Annex was done by State and then reviewed by the Steering Group. Sonnenfeldt did not believe that it was fruitful to speculate on Soviet motives. If the US and USSR agreed on a package and our analysis demonstrated that it was acceptable to us, we would not need to care about the Soviet motives. The latter perhaps affects their reason for entering into arms talks, but it does not [Page 56] really affect our analysis or the desirability of various options. Nutter suggested that you cannot assume that if the Soviets talk to us they will reach agreement with us. Selin relayed Packard’s view that no one really knows the Soviets’ objectives and we need not speculate on them. We should agree on an arms control package and then we can find out their motives.

Kissinger said that he would like in the paper a complex set of Soviet motivations. Although it made no operative difference, it would reflect a greater rigor in the analysis. It was then agreed that Nutter and J. Smith would work together for agreed language on this issue.

Scope of Agreement (IIB)

Kissinger said that the first two pages of the report covered the issues that had been outlined earlier in the discussion, i.e., what scope of agreement we want. He wondered whether it would be useful to insert in this section language that related it to options found at the end of the paper, in order to illustrate criteria. He thought the present version read abstractly without the concrete illustrations later on. G. Smith suggested language like “limited measure, such as option 1” etc. Kissinger believed there should also be some discussion of criteria, and Pedersen wondered whether these could be stated in a shorthand way. Kissinger repeated that it would be helpful to have some criteria to illustrate what one means by limited or comprehensive and, he would add, intermediary settlements. This need not be conclusive treatment but would suggest what limited and other measures attempt to accomplish. G. Smith suggested, and Nutter agreed, that he could provide language on criteria for this section. Kissinger noted that he should add an intermediary option to limited and comprehensive measures. Kissinger suggested that SWWA be considered separately, for this section considered negotiations while an arms race continued. G. Smith pointed out that arms talks could take place during a moratorium. Kissinger replied that, from G. Smith’s point of view, it would be preferable to use option 4 as an example of a comprehensive agreement, and not only SWWA which would not be favorably received by some. G. Smith agreed that it seemed sensible to offer option 4 as an example as well as noting SWWA.

Moratorium (IIC)

Having reached agreement on page 2, Kissinger asked whether the section on Moratorium was a fair statement of the issues. G. Smith noted that the Soviet missile force was 55% completed and 45% under construction. In this situation, moratorium has a powerful logic, which had not occurred to him till he had studied the figures. In response to Pedersen’s query whether a moratorium included a halt of construction, G. Smith said that we could propose this. Allison believed that [Page 57] there could be substantial negotiations just on the specifics of a moratorium, e.g., at what phase construction must cease, at what level you could continue, etc. This was a complex question.

Kissinger said that he had problems with the moratorium section and that it would help the President to list the pros and cons of various moratorium options.SWWA would constitute a complete moratorium, and one could also discuss a moratorium on MIRVs, ABM construction, etc. He thought that these moratorium options, with their relation to one another and pros and cons, would be helpful to focus the discussion. Keeny said that this would have to be selective, since there were a multitude of combinations. Kissinger agreed that not all variables should be listed, but believed that there should be illustrations of the general principles. Certainly a MIRV moratorium should be addressed. Selin remarked that even stopping MIRV was a complex question, and Farley noted the importance of the length of the moratorium. Kissinger asked whether a moratorium paper could be produced quickly. After a brief exchange it was agreed that a few paragraphs without elaborate discussion could be provided in a few days. Kissinger stressed the importance of showing pros and cons. In response to G. Smith’s suggestion that the relationship of a moratorium to the negotiations be treated, Allison said that it would be difficult to produce a paper promptly on this question. Kissinger believed that if the moratorium issue were presented to the President in the form presently used in the paper, he would probably rule against it. It was finally decided that the section would be revised and ACDA would produce a page or two on the moratorium issue, with pros and cons, to go at the end of the paper.

Verification (IID)

Kissinger then took up this section. Allison said that the JCS were not in complete agreement with this part of the paper. Kissinger said that he preferred stated differences rather than agreed papers. Allison noted that the disagreement on verifying a MIRV prohibition was covered under the cons on page 11, but believed it would also be useful to state it here on page 3. J. Smith said that there had been much discussion on this issue and that there was virtual agreement. Selin said that there was a substantive question concerning definition. There was a flat statement that we would know if the Soviets started testing MIRVs, but this rests on the assumption that other systems were banned. A MIRV ban to be effectively policed depended on what else one was willing to give up in an agreement. J. Smith said that the statements of our intelligence capabilities have been thoroughly worked over and related to arms agreements. The judgments rested on the assumption that an arms agreement would permit us to use our intelligence tools effectively.

Kissinger said that two types of papers were possible. There are those with which everyone is happy through subjective interpretation—[Page 58]thus vagueness was helpful. He believed a second type of paper was more useful to the President, one that let him know what issues were behind vague phrases and let him see disagreements on judgments. He suggested that one could state here that the vast majority thought that we could verify a MIRV prohibition through a ban on flight testing, while a minority disagreed.

It was finally agreed that in addition to this being mentioned on page 11 it would also be included on page 3, so that all the main points on verification would be in one place. Kissinger asked Sonnenfeldt to keep track of these and other drafting changes.

Keeny noted the extensive efforts of the intelligence community on this question. Selin noted OSD agreement with CIA’s evaluation of the verification of a MIRV ban, but repeated his point that a flat statement rested on the need to have other systems banned which might be unacceptable.

Lynn questioned the emphasis of this section which appeared to be that national means of verification are adequate to protect our interests. He wondered what positive results might come from inspection, and Kissinger said that this was covered on page 3. Lynn replied he was not clear what “on site inspection” meant. Kissinger suggested that this was considered an end in itself. Selin stated that the importance of inspection had changed greatly since last year, for we now understand the Tallinn system. Allison declared that on site inspection does increase our confidence in an agreement. Hyland noted this general point about increasing confidence, and suggested putting in specific examples of where inspection would be helpful in this regard. Sonnenfeldt said that this was an important consideration and that there should be examples of where we would have greater confidence. He added that some forms of inspection also increase deterrence. Kissinger noted that inspection therefore was not just an end in itself but in some areas would objectively increase our confidence. J. Smith said that this was true of only some weapons systems. Sonnenfeldt declared that inspection would be useful to prove Soviet compliance with agreements to those who are skeptical about national means of verification. This will be a difficult issue at some point.

Kissinger wondered what the NSC should address, for everyone is in favor of on site inspection. The problem arises if one poses the choice between inspection and no agreement at all. Therefore if this question was to be discussed we need first of all examples of where inspection is useful, and secondly discussion of what price we would be willing to pay for inspection. G. Smith said that he should have ready by Monday (June 16) a technical analysis of where on site inspection would be useful. Selin thought that Sonnenfeldt’s excellent point about proving Soviet compliance should also be included. [Page 59] J. Smith said that we now know with some degree of confidence what we can and cannot verify with national means.

Kissinger summarized that verification is a question of the principle itself, deterrence, and public opinion; a paragraph or two was needed to explain this. Selin suggested also the insertion on page 3 of the page 11 language on MIRV verification, while J. Smith suggested adding a consideration of how verification is linked to various packages. There was further brief discussion during which Kissinger repeated that language was needed to explain inspection, why the issue was raised, and to what end inspection might be useful.

Kissinger wondered whether there was sufficient explanation of the possibility of converting IRBMs to ICBMs (D5). Selin said that this was explained elsewhere, and Kissinger suggested adding a sentence at this point. There was a brief discussion on the implications of IR/MRBM upgrading and its possible impact on our European allies. G. Smith wondered whether an ICBM could be fired, e.g., for 1500 miles, and Selin said that it depended on the design. This could be done through inefficient designing of ICBMs so that two stages would be used for Europe and three for the United States.

Other General Considerations (II E–H)

Kissinger wondered what evidence we had that the Soviets would want a comprehensive agreement. G. Smith mentioned their past positions on General and Complete Disarmament, a total nuclear test ban, and complete demilitarization of the seabeds. Kissinger noted that in certain cases they had settled for less than comprehensive arrangements. He thought it would be more accurate for the paper to say that we expect the Soviets “to ask for an agreement of broad coverage”. Loomis noted the propaganda element in past Soviet positions on comprehensive agreements. He thought that they might back off in certain cases if we indicated a willingness to conclude a comprehensive measure.

Kissinger thought that the first sentence in Section F ( US-Soviet Political Relations) constituted a circular argument (with regard to our starting talks indicating our desire to negotiate). Selin commented that the second sentence (concerning a US decision not to begin negotiations) had more meaning. Halperin believed that both sentences concerned an incongruous issue not raised in the paper, namely, should we start arms control talks? He wondered whether this was really an issue in the government. Kissinger noted that there seemed to be a definite trend in the US government toward initiation of talks.

Sonnenfeldt felt that the last sentence in F (suggesting the positive effect of an arms agreement on US-Soviet political relations) was troublesome. The assumptions used for the various options in the paper, i.e., that the Soviets would do the maximum permissible under each [Page 60] agreement, were not consistent with predictions of détente in this section. The paper should at least allow for a variegated pattern of US-Soviet relations that could leave the military dangers as great as they would be without an agreement. Selin noted that the Europeans’ perceptions may change when an agreement confirms rough parity. Sonnenfeldt repeated that prospects for détente were not borne out by the analysis of the options. Kissinger noted that they were also not borne out by history. G. Smith suggested, and the group agreed, to eliminate this last paragraph in section F. Sonnenfeldt suggested that the whole paragraph was expendable, but Pedersen disagreed.

Kissinger then raised NATO Reactions (Section G). Lindjord suggested language underlining the importance of consultations with our allies. Selin noted that the net effect of a MIRV ban would be less total coverage for European targets, though not necessarily less relative coverage. Sonnenfeldt believed this was an important point. G. Smith said that the allies had been told this for years. Kissinger believed that there was the same problem here as there was in the strategic posture paper, namely weighing what the Europeans say versus what they actually think. He did not believe that there was that much unanimity on SALT. He felt that it was at least open to question whether a comprehensive agreement would be that welcome to Europeans once it was a fact of life. G. Smith commented that the next 20 days should inform us on this question. Kissinger recalled that when the President was talking with NATO foreign ministers, Dutch Foreign Minister Luns said that the prospect of parity was one of the most shocking things he had heard. This was an illustration of the differences between general public statements and gut feelings among many Europeans. SALT will create problems, even though it is only making explicit what is already a fact and thus does not create a new military equation. These were not arguments against arms talks but merely point up a problem that we should be aware of and that G. Smith would encounter. He believed our allied consultations will surface many problems, and that therefore this paragraph in the paper was misleading.

Farley thought that the paper’s language was more balanced than that. There are many others on the European scene besides those, like Luns, who have come through past wars. For the younger generation which has not shared the same experiences, SALT is a crucial issue. Kissinger said that he was not completely against the paragraph, but merely wished to introduce another perspective. Farley thought that the problem was covered in the discussion of specific problems. Pedersen believed that specific weapons issues might cause European concerns, but from an overall point of view they would still want a comprehensive agreement. Kissinger believed that the paper should call attention to the fact that SALT raises delicate problems in NATO relations [Page 61] without prejudging the outcome of our consultations. He thought that we should come out alright with our allies if they are handled well.

Nutter remarked that at the NPG meeting he attended the Europeans were concerned about what subjects would be discussed in SALT, including MIRVs. Kissinger said that visitors to the President express disquiet about SALT, although they do not oppose going ahead. In response to G. Smith’s suggestion that there was more curiosity than disquiet, Kissinger said that disquiet was more accurate. G. Smith said that our consultation experience to date in 1969 had exposed no real problems except for the possibility of a US-Soviet condominium. Kissinger believed that there would be trouble once serious consultations got underway. Farley agreed that Europeans would be concerned about possible outcomes on various issues.

Kissinger then raised the subject of Cost Savings (II H). G. Smith said that SWWA would result in substantial savings. Kissinger wondered what adjectives like “significant” savings really meant. Sonnenfeldt said that for all the options discussed in the summary report there would be about one billion dollars in savings. Hyland noted that this was the average per year over the 10 year period under the most comprehensive arrangements. Kissinger thought that the paper should state concretely what we might save. Keeny noted the difficulties of ten year projections, and Kissinger replied that no figures at all would make the paper less satisfactory than approximate figures. Lynn believed that, given the current great interest in the DOD budget, the paper should clearly state the facts to dispell the presumption that great savings would occur through arms talks. Selin agreed that arms control was not the way to resolve money allocation problems. G. Smith thought that SWWA was an exception to this, but Selin believed that even under this arrangement, expenditures on larger warheads would mean that there would not be great savings. Kissinger said that the paper should make a point that there would not be major savings and indicate the order of savings that would accrue, except for SWWA which would be higher. Keeny said that there would not be any great immediate savings because present programs would not be affected. But SWWA would result in a couple of billion dollars saved. G. Smith said that this could be stated as one or two percent of the defense budget. Pedersen wondered whether savings referred to budget reductions or to avoidance of future spending. Keeny repeated that one cannot generalize over a ten year period. Sonnenfeldt noted the basic point that savings would not be large, but Pedersen referred to the possibility of substantial savings by avoiding major programs. Sonnenfeldt wondered how much the intelligence budget would go up under an arms control agreement. Kissinger recalled that the strategic budget was not a large part of defense spending. He concluded that the report should [Page 62] state savings in concrete terms rather than using adjectives. G. Smith mentioned some possible figures for SWWA, but admitted that he did not have high confidence in them. These range between 4.4 and 4.5 billion dollars per year or 20–25 billion dollars over 5 years. Kissinger asked that the drafters get together for concrete figures to be used, except for SWWA which should result in greater savings.

Weapons Systems Issues (III)

Selin believed that the last sentence on page 8 linking ABM levels and MIRV decisions was misleading. For example, one could allow MIRVs and low ABM levels. There followed a brief discussion between Selin and Kissinger on the effects of various levels of ABM defenses, with Kissinger inquiring about the significance for stability of high ABM levels. Selin noted the importance of how countries get to high ABM levels and the factor of uncertainty concerning their effectiveness. He said that without MIRVs one had to begin worrying when the other side’s ABM levels reached somewhere between 500 and 1000. Kissinger concluded that at higher ABM levels the capabilities of both sides suffered.

Kissinger questioned the use of the specific figure of 200, e.g., instead of 500, in the discussion of a low level ABM on page 9.

Selin replied that this was approximate and referred to a system that might be deployed around Moscow or other high value targets. We would have less worry about Soviet cheating in this situation because they would need new radar and information systems before being able to deploy a large ABM complex. With 500 ABMs they might reasonably spread them around the country with associated radars, and this would shorten the lead time that we would have to detect their cheating and suddenly deploying, e.g., another 1000. Without these necessary radars on the other hand, we would have 3 to 4 years lead time on possible Soviet cheating. Kissinger thought this should be explained in the paper, for the figure 200 looked arbitrary. The 500 level looked crucial with regard to the need for MIRVs, if you set aside the question of cheating. Hyland noted that the strategic analysis showed that the significantly dangerous ABM level for us would be in the range of 750–1000 rather than 500. Selin said that there was analysis underlying these figures. Hyland said that the 500 level was about the cutoff point, for between 500 and 1000 we would begin to cut into Soviet retaliatory capabilities. G. Smith suggested labeling 200 as the approximate ceiling with regard to the associated radar problem that Selin had outlined.

Kissinger summarized that 500 represented our strategic sensitivity while 200 raised the problems of cheating. Lynn believed that we would need a detailed paper on ABM levels sooner or later, both for follow-on to Safeguard and questions of area defense. Selin noted that much analysis had been devoted to ABM levels, and Lynn replied that [Page 63] this was more in the abstract rather than keyed to Safeguard. J. Smith saw the objective of clarifying these numbers, but wondered how the explanation might be compressed for purposes of the paper. Selin said this was a complicated topic and to fully explain it might be more than the President needs. Allison said that he was generally satisfied with the wording. Selin concluded that he would try his hand at a paragraph explaining the 200 and 500 levels and give this language to Kissinger.

Kissinger asked Sonnenfeldt to work with various people and do a redraft of the summary report. He should then check this redraft with ACDA, and it would subsequently be sent around to Review Group members for their concurrence. In response to Nutter’s question, Kissinger confirmed that the NSC would focus only on the summary paper and not attempt to address the complete study.

Kissinger asked whether there were any other substantive problems or objections with the rest of the paper. There being no further comments, the meeting was adjourned.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–109, NSC Minutes Originals 1969. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. Halperin forwarded the minutes to Kissinger under a covering memorandum on June 16.
  2. Document 14.
  3. Document 16.
  4. See Document 4 and footnote 2, Document 12.
  5. All references to options and sections are to those set forth in the NSSM 28 report, the summary of which is Document 14.
  6. Not found.