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

WH21246. To be delivered upon opening of business Sunday a.m.

Dobrynin made following points today.2

In regard to SLBM’s the Soviet leadership is puzzled that we are claiming that our proposal is in effect theirs when in their view they were accepting the essence of our position. In this regard, the Soviets confirm that they will dismantle SS–7’s and SS–8’s and convert them into SLBMs.
In regard to initial phrase in our formal communication to the effect that we could not accept all considerations in the Soviet paper given me in Moscow, Soviets understand that this refers particularly to NATO aspects and FBS. The Soviets will therefore not insist on any formal references to UK and French SLBM’s or to any commitment that forward bases will be on agenda for next phase of SALT.

I wanted you to have the above since I understand Semyonov is to present Soviet SLBM on Sunday.3

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972, SALT. Secret; Exclusive; Eyes Only.
  2. At 5:30 p.m. Dobrynin handed Kissinger a letter from the Soviet leadership concerning the situation in Vietnam, which is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 200. Although no other U.S. record of their discussion has been found, Dobrynin’s memorandum of conversation is published in Soviet-American Relations, Document 324.
  3. In telegram USDEL SALT 1318 from Helsinki, May 15, Smith summarized the Soviet SLBM proposal presented by Semenov: “Substance of understanding would limit US to 656 launchers on 41 submarines, and limit Soviet Union to 950 launchers on modern submarines while permitting it to retain 100 SLBM launchers on G and H class submarines or to modify G and H class with new SLBMs above 950 limit.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 883, SALT, SALT talks (Helenski) [sic], Vol. 18, May–August 1972)