246. Backchannel Message From the Chief of the Delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Smith) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

271. Dear Henry:

I am not reporting in normal channels following episode because significance is unclear and reporting might lead to unwarranted expectations.

At today’s mini-plenary, General Trusov reading a paper said an ABM treaty accompanied by an interim freeze limited to ICBMs would be “sufficient”. Both sides recognized ICBMs were an important offensive weapon system. In post plenary private session, I queried Semenov as to significance of this change of terminology from their past statements that inclusion of SLBMs in a freeze would be inappropriate for this stage of the negotiations. He, at first, referred me to the Russian text which he promised to send on. But after his interpreter had left, he said to me in Russian “You have very good antennae.”

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From this, I assume the Soviets may be foreshadowing willingness to change their SL position—but the change might well be a proposal that if we insist on SL inclusion, they must have a compensating inclusion perhaps involving Poseidon.

Warm regards.

Gerry Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Sensitive.