23. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The SWWA Proposal

You requested receiving the views of the Department of Defense on the potential disadvantages of the SWWA proposal. The position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is contained in the attached JCSM dated 23 June 1969.2

In general, I share the view that it is neither necessary nor desirable to delay efforts to formulate a US SALT position in order to address SWWA, and I agree with the JCS that, because of the nature of the SWWA proposal, it would not be in the US interest to propose a negotiating package along its exact lines. Most of the features of SWWA are discussed as issues in the NSSM 28 report (e.g., bomber limitations, throw-weight limitations, missile flight test restrictions). Thus, I would suggest that a decision could be made to modify a selected US proposal to incorporate one or more of these features if judged to be feasible and desirable, perhaps at a future time. While I agree that SWWA as a complete package would be precluded in terms of its overall objectives if the US position rejects a MIRV ban, I do not at this time support the position that a refusal to consider SWWA necessarily indicates a rejection of a MIRV ban.

In considering the Stop Where We Are proposal, it is important that we not lose sight of the distinction between those issues which must be decided now and those which need not be. The only urgent issue raised by the SWWA proposal is the question of a moratorium. A bilateral moratorium during negotiations need not constrain as many systems as does the SWWA proposal. A comprehensive moratorium seems neither necessary nor practical. But a moratorium on MRV and MIRV testing and on ICBM/SLBM and ABM deployments during negotiations could be useful in several ways. It could constrain Soviet deployment and testing which is of concern to us, and it could keep the possibility of agreements such as SWWA or Package IV alive in the long run. We need not decide now whether we prefer such agreements, [Page 87] but there are good reasons why we should not intentionally foreclose the possibility of such agreements until we see what the Soviet attitude toward talks is. We should discuss now only those aspects of the Stop Where We Are proposal which are relevant to the question of whether we could, under some circumstances, eventually accept a MIRV ban. If we decide that a bilateral moratorium during talks is acceptable, then the other issues raised by the Stop Where We Are proposal can be dealt with later.

We would like to note that these remarks are addressed only to SWWA as a proposal, and not to fundamental issues on SALT that we have raised before and will raise again.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files:FRC 330–75–103, Box 1b, USSR, 388.3. Top Secret. This memorandum was in response to Kissinger’s request made during the Review Group meeting on June 19; see Document 20.
  2. Attached but not printed is JCSM–390–69.