212. National Security Decision Memorandum 1401


  • The Members of the National Security Council
  • The Attorney General
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Instructions for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks At Vienna (SALT VI)

The President has made the following decisions for Vienna (SALT VI):2

The basic U.S. position is unchanged.
The Delegation should initially concentrate its presentation and discussion on offensive limitations and should insist the Soviets do the same. This initial emphasis should focus on establishing that there will be an overall ICBM freeze, with a sub-limit on Modern Large Ballistic Missiles and a precise understanding of what is allowed under modernization and replacement. As for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the Delegation should make a strong effort to negotiate their inclusion in any interim offensive agreement. If it appears that [Page 646] this objective can be achieved only by modification of the present U.S. proposal regarding SLBMs, the Delegation should recommend alternatives for Presidential decision.
The Delegation should initiate an ad referendum procedure to prepare a Joint Draft Text of an agreement on offensive limitations.
Our present ABM proposal regarding the number of sites and launchers/interceptors is unchanged. The Delegation should make clear to the Soviets that there are no alternatives to this proposal. Accordingly, exploration of other alternatives is not authorized at this time. However, with regard to radars and geographic limitations, the Delegation is authorized to continue explorations and to recommend alternatives for Presidential decision.
The Chairman of the Delegation is directed to provide the following interpretation of the right to freedom of choice between the two ABM alternatives in Article 3 of the U.S. draft defensive agreement.3 First, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. must indicate clearly their initial choice of an ABM deployment before the negotiations on ABM systems are completed or an agreement is initialled. (At the time for selection, the Soviet Delegation should be informed that the initial U.S. choice is a deployment at ICBM fields.) Second, the U.S. proposes that, after a mutually agreed time from the effective date of the defensive agreement, either side would have the right to change its ABM deployment (within the limits of Article 3), subject to destruction procedures which need not be agreed upon prior to conclusion of the agreement but which must be mutually agreed upon prior to the switch.
On issues other than those discussed above, the Delegation should continue to seek to narrow the U.S.–U.S.S.R. differences in the Joint Draft Text4 on an ad referendum basis. The interagency paper “Some Outstanding Issues at SALT and Possible Negotiating Exchanges,” dated October 27, 1971,5 can serve as a guide to resolving the issues it discussed.
The need for avoiding leaks remains particularly compelling. The President’s directive of October 31, 1969, entitled “Avoidance of Leaks on SALT,”6 is again reaffirmed.
Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–208, National Security Decision Memoranda, NSDMs 101–150. Top Secret; Nodis; SALT. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior members of the U.S. SALT Delegation. Haig initialed the NSDM, indicating that he saw it.
  2. The sixth round of negotiations began in Vienna on November 15 and continued until February 4, 1972.
  3. See Document 183.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 210.
  5. The interagency paper was prepared for the November 3 Verification Panel meeting and dealt with the defensive elements of an agreement, primarily with ABM option levels, OLPARs, and MARCs. The paper prioritized the offensive elements to be negotiated: MLBMs, followed by ICBMs and SLBMs. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–009, Verification Panel Meeting SALT 11/3/71)
  6. See footnote 4, Document 40.