193. Note From the Soviet Leadership1

Moscow agrees with the President’s opinion regarding the importance of finding a practical agreement on ABM—in the same spirit of mutual understanding as was the case with respect to the West Berlin agreement. At the SALT talks, including discussions on limiting ABM systems, we are guided precisely by such approach, i.e. by the desire to find mutually acceptable solutions.

You would recall in this connection that last January when the U.S. side agreed in principle to the conclusion of a separate agreement on ABM, you, Dr. Kissinger, in mentioning various possible variants for the limitation of ABM systems, said at the same time that the United States have “no special preference in favor of one or another variant and would be ready to accept any of them” (talk with Dr. Kissinger of January 23).2 Last February speaking in favor of the variant providing for the retention of the ABM systems, the construction of which has already begun, you, Dr. Kissinger, talking about your readiness to accept also other variants, said that “only because of this question the U.S. side will not hinder the possibility of concluding the agreement as a whole” (talk with Dr. Kissinger of February 22).3 While asking us to delete in the exchange of letters of May 20 a concrete reference to the variant of limiting ABM systems to the defense of the capitals, you, Dr. Kissinger, also said that this request was dictated by internal tactical considerations of the President and that at further negotiations the U.S. side would be ready to consider this variant as well.4

Trying to find a compromise solution which would be mutually acceptable for both sides the Soviet Government is giving instructions to its delegation at the negotiations in Helsinki to discuss with the U.S. delegation the following variant of limiting ABM systems:

ABM systems in the Soviet Union and the United States would be limited to the defense of their capitals. Beside that, the United States would retain ABM installations on one of the ICBM bases, where their [Page 601] construction has begun, while the Soviet Union would have the rightto deploy ABM installations for the defense of an equal number of the ICBM silos. The quantitative and geographical limitations on ABM for the capitals will be retained in accordance with the previously submitted proposals. As for the ABM installations for the defense of the ICBM silos—if the U.S. side agrees to such an approach in principle—criteria for the acceptable limitations could be discussed having in mind that the ABM installations for the defense of ICBM silos should not be used for creation of the territorial ABM system, covering the whole country.

I would like to stress that Moscow hopes that this new step of ours, which is directed towards breaking the deadlock at the negotiations in Helsinki on the ABM question, will be duly appreciated by President Nixon and that appropriate instructions will also be given to the U.S. delegation in Helsinki.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 497, President’s Trip Files, Exchange of Notes Between Dobrynin and Kissinger, Vol. 1. No classification marking. Delivered to Haig for Kissinger on August 30 under a handwritten covering note from Smith that reads: “Henry! I am sending you the texts which we talked about on the phone today. With best wishes, Smith.” (Ibid., Box 492, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1971, Vol. 7 [Part 2])
  2. See Document 127.
  3. See Document 134.
  4. See Document 155. Regarding the May 20 exchange of letters, see Document 160.