194. Note From President Nixon to the Soviet Leadership1

The United States consistently expressed its preference for ABM deployment to protect the Minuteman ICBMs. The original United States proposal on January 9, 1971,2 was for three Safeguard sites as contrasted with the NCA defense of the Soviet Union. When the Government of the Soviet Union expressed reservations, the United States Government agreed that this United States position did not need to be included in the letters to be exchanged but stated that this position would be taken in the course of negotiations. On three different occasions the United States refused to accept references to the protection of capitals in the letters to be exchanged. The reference in the Soviet note3 to understandings on this subject pertains only to the United States’understanding as to the text of the letters which were exchanged in connection with the May 20 announcement and not to the subsequent negotiations.

On the question of submarine launched missiles, the United States Government notes that the draft of the letter proposed by the USSR [Page 602] refers to “weapons” rather than the word “launchers” which the United States Government had proposed. The letters further state that the weapons to be frozen were among the details to be negotiated. Accordingly the United States Government considers that SLBMs should be discussed in the context of an offensive freeze.

Above all, it is the view of the United States Government that a solution can be found, not so much in legalistic interpretations but in a spirit of goodwill based on the importance of the objective.

  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. According to a handwritten notation, Haig delivered the note to Dobrynin on September 3.
  2. See Document 124.
  3. Document 193.