218. Editorial Note

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger analyzed recent Soviet behavior, including indications of Soviet views toward SALT, in a December 22, 1971, memorandum to President Nixon: “There has been no abrupt change in the negotiations, but the tone seems to be degenerating somewhat. The Soviets persist in putting forward their proposals in the most one-sided fashion, in terms they can be virtually certain we will resist. Moreover, they make claims about the status of their forces (i.e., that we both have approximately the same number of ICBMs) that we know to be wildly inaccurate. Most important, one suspects that the Soviets may have made a decision to proceed with the expansion of their ABMs, and want to codify this in SALT under the guise of insisting on equality (this too could be another Soviet bargaining ploy).” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 717, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XVII, Nov–31 Dec 1971) The memorandum is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 33.

On December 23 the Verification Panel met to hear a report by Gerard Smith, Chief of the U.S. Delegation to SALT, on the recessed round of negotiations in Vienna. Smith’s report listed seven unresolved issues: “1) inclusion of SLs in the freeze; 2) specifics re freeze definitions, mobiles, soft; 3)ABM levels; 4) the ABM/radar/MARC concept; 5) OLPAR constraints; 6) what constraints should be placed on futures; 7) nature and specifics of the duration/withdrawal provisions of the two agreements and the form of the ABM agreement.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–010, Verification Panel Meeting SALT 12/23/71)

According to the meeting minutes’ summary of conclusions, the Panel agreed to the following: “Dr. Kissinger will seek from the President some interim guidance for the Delegation prior to its return to the talks on January 2. This will include, at a minimum, a decision whether the ABM agreement should be a treaty and the modification of our position on SLBMs to permit the replacement of old SLBMs with new models. The Working Group will prepare a paper examining the options available over the longer term. It will consider modifications of our ABM position, whether the inclusion of SLBMs should be a make-or-break proposition with regard to the agreement as a whole, and the duration and withdrawal provisions of both proposed agreements.” (Ibid., Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 1969–3/8/72)