236. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Chief of the Delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Smith)1

S: Two things. If any serious disposition to go to high level concept2 I would like a chance to argue case against it. Rather than NSC that would last an hour.

K: Thing I suggested yesterday3 was I don’t believe there was a serious intention to go to high level concept in American proposal but as I understand meeting yesterday, there was a possibility for going two for two.

S: If you want to go two for two it can be on basis of low levels. Small number of interceptors.

K: In 4 marks [ MARCs] not as missile field but if 15 or 20 it will be [make] sense but 100 for 50 missiles, you wonder. Even one radar for each missile you wonder.

S: 15 interceptors per radar.

K: If you have a level of 150 with 50 in a missile field then logical for [omission in the original] radars.

S: And that’s a mark [ MARC ] concept. So if you go to [omission in the original] you are in hard defense contract.

[Page 697]

K: I think I can persuade the President—dropping my role as traffic cop—I believe with your idea on Hearthside [Hard Site]. I didn’t focus until yesterday on Hearthside [Hard Site] and going 2 for 2.

S: That’s not important. Use terminal [terms?]precisely and get high level and qualitative limitations. We won’t go into high level if it involves [omission in the original]limitations.

K: If we adopt Hearthside [Hard Site] I will get you an appt. with the President. I reported yesterday to the President and on SLBM he is prepared to let you slip on completion date but not a freedom to mix idea.

S: He is right.

K: Can you keep your delegation under control? This is not a decision. Just a reaction. I think he will approve changing the date but not freedom to mix or changing soft pads.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Reference is to ABM alternatives that would allow a high-level hard-site defense of ICBMs, permitting the deployment at one ABM site of interceptors and radars in unlimited numbers.
  3. The Verification Panel met on March 8 from 11:11 a.m. to 12:37 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. Minutes of the meeting are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 1969–3/8/72.