229. Memorandum From Philip Odeen of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • New Information on ABM Proposals for SALT

Some new information has come to our attention about ABM proposals for SALT. It should be of use for you at the Verification Panel meeting tomorrow.2

JCS Position

The JCS have recently modified their 3-for-3 ABM proposal to include a vague Hard-Site Defense option. The JCS representatives have been very hesitant to spell out any details, essentially saying only that each side should have the right to deploy, after consultation, an agreed number [Page 682] of additional “limited-range”ABM interceptors and radars in defense of two ICBM fields.

This agrees in theory with the OSD proposal to allow an option for Hard-Site Defense.

However, there are differences between the JCS and OSD. The JCS would like 3-for-3 ABM sites initially (versus 1-for-1 of OSD) and would like the option of HSD defense of two ICBM fields (versus one for OSD). Probably more important than the numerical differences, the JCS would (contrary to OSD):

  • —Probably not want any initial exploration of “fundamental principles” before the U.S. makes its offer;
  • —Probably be against strict qualitative controls on ABM radars and ABM interceptors;
  • —Almost certainly be against each side having a veto power over the other side’s construction of Other Large Phased Array Radars (OLPARs).

Soviet Position

The Soviets said at Tuesday’s3 meeting in Vienna that they were strongly opposed to detailed qualitative controls on ABM components for ICBM defense. They say they would accept at most a general statement that these ABM components were not to have a substantial capability for population defense.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 882, SALT, SALT talks (Helenski) [sic], Vol. 17, January–April 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive. Urgent; Sent for information. On January 17 Odeen and Sonnenfeldt sent Kissinger a memorandum in which they conveyed Smith’s request for guidance to explore “allowing equal number of interceptors within our 2 or 1 ABM proposal” and “allowing freedom-to-mix from ICBMs to SLBMs,” as a way to circumvent OSD and JCS objections. Odeen and Sonnenfeldt recommended four possible actions: “1) prepare a memorandum to the President with a draft directive; 2) prepare a draft directive for me; 3) call a Verification Panel meeting as soon as possible; 4) hold in abeyance.” Kissinger approved their recommendation to call a Verification Panel meeting as soon as possible and added the handwritten comment, “this is no commitment to Smith.” (Ibid.)
  2. The meeting scheldued for January 27 was cancelled.
  3. January 18.