266. 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

330. Dear Henry:

Last Saturday afternoon Kishilov advised Garthoff that since a treaty with a complete deferral of the second sites would result in the Soviets having no defense of ICBMs in the initial phase, they would not want to propose such deferral.2 But Semenov’s instructions call for a positive reply if the US proposes deferral—perhaps covering deferral in a side understanding rather than in treaty. They still have in mind three to five years.

An ABM treaty with a second site deferral would have some aspects of a freeze to existing ABM sites and thus would minimize somewhat [Page 787] the psychological difference between the treatment proposed for offensive and defensive limitations.

I stayed entirely away from the deferral question in recent talks with Semenov since I realize that it may be a controversial matter at home.

Warm regards.

Gerry Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusive Eyes Only. Copies were sent to Haig and Howe.
  2. Smith may be referring to the discussion on Sunday, April 16; see Document 261.