214. Memorandum From K. Wayne Smith and Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Memorandum from Ambassador Smith to the President on SALT

Ambassador Smith has written the President (Tab B)2 agreeing with the President’s press conference statement that “… neither major power can get a decisive advantage over the other …”3

Smith uses the statement for a brief homily on the theme that the U.S. is not on a course leading to an inferior strategic position; rather, we are substantially increasing our capabilities.

Smith concludes that, if our programs were adequately publicized, our Allies and public would conclude that the President is on the right track in the SALT negotiations.

Smith’s facts and interpretation are old ones. They will be very useful when it comes time to present the SALT agreements to Congress and the public.

Attached at Tab A is a draft reply from you to Smith which:

  • —Says the President appreciated Smith’s views;
  • —Notes that the Administration will have an excellent opportunity to inform our Allies and the American public of the facts when we present the SALT agreements.

There seems to be no need to forward this memorandum to the President or to have him respond to Smith.

Recommendation 4

That you sign the letter to Smith at Tab A.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 882, SALT, SALT talks (Helsinki), Vol. 17, September–December 1971. Top Secret. Sent for action. Sent through Haig, who initialed the memorandum and wrote, “Wow.”
  2. The tabs are attached but not printed.
  3. The rest of Nixon’s October 12 press conference statement, quoted in Smith’s letter, reads: “an advantage which would enable it to launch a preemptive strike which might enable it to engage in international blackmail.” The full text of Nixon’s press conference is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 1030–1032.
  4. Kissinger wrote: “Let’s forward memo to Pres[ident]. I don’t want to be in position of blocking agency head. HK.”