24. National Security Study Memorandum 621


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • The President’s Science Adviser


  • Follow-on to NSSM 28 (SALT)

The President has directed preparation of specific alternative negotiating positions for the strategic arms limitations talks, based on the NSSM 28 Report and NSC discussion thereof.

This further report should be prepared by the existing NSSM 28 Steering Group and should be structured in accordance with the guidelines set forth below.

The report should contain a set of negotiating positions including, in each case, the language that would actually be used with the Soviets and a precise description for internal US use.
There should be at least two examples of a proposal for a limited agreement, and one or more proposals each for intermediate and comprehensive agreements. The SWWA proposal should be included as one of the proposals for a comprehensive agreement.
Each alternative should have a full statement of advantages and disadvantages.
Each alternative should be assessed in terms of its compatibility with the Criteria for Strategic Sufficiency established in NSDM 16.2 In particular, each alternative should be evaluated in terms of the following factors:
  • —retaliatory capability
  • —crisis stability
  • —war-waging capability below massive assault
  • —ability to limit US fatalities
  • —potential for the United States to emerge from a strategic exchange in a position relatively better than the Soviet Union
  • —confidence level of verifying Soviet performance under the agreement
  • —susceptibility to safeguards against Soviet violation or sudden abrogation
  • —effect on our alliance commitments.
Each alternative should be compared with the situation that would exist without agreement.
Each alternative should state specifically whether we should seek to negotiate means of verification other than national, and whether such means are required.
Each alternative should state specifically the ABM levels involved.
Each alternative should state specifically how MIRV would be affected and precisely what operational or development testing would be precluded in the event a ban on flight testing designed to eliminate MIRVs is included in the alternative.
Each alternative should state what, if any, moratoriums it might be desirable to propose; the effective date of any such moratoriums; precisely what would be included; and the level of confidence we would have in verifying Soviet performance.
Each alternative should outline hedges against possible Soviet cheating or sudden abrogation.
Agency differences on any of the foregoing should be fully set forth.

The report of the Steering Group should be forwarded to the NSC Review Group by July 11, 1969 and should include a set of Questions and Answers for use with the public, the Congress and the Allies.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–154, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 62. Top Secret; Nodis.
  2. President Nixon formally endorsed the four Criteria for Strategic Sufficiency (see footnote 1, Document 19), in NSDM 16, issued June 24. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda, Nos. 1–50) For the full text, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972, Document 39.