275. 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

388. Dear Henry:

Semenov today gave me a paper2 making somewhat more precise and from our point of view slightly improved Soviet SL position over Brezhnev paper.3

Semenov cited movement toward the informal considerations I put to him on May 8th, USDEL SALT VII 1299 (attached for reference).4

In brief, Soviets would drop their call for a specific authorization for 62 boats and would accept a freeze ceiling of 950 launchers. Replacement of older ICBMs would be required if Soviets built more than 49 boats. Semenov’s answer to my question as to the rationale for 48 boats was that US allies had SLBM submarines.

Soviets dropped call for both sides to phase out older ICBMs as called for in Brezhnev paper. But they do not accept US proposed right to convert Titans to additional SLBMs.

Soviets do not accept our position that to reach 950 launchers they would have to scrap older SLBM submarines of G & H class (31 boats with 100 launchers).

Semenov indicated that “political considerations” (allied submarines, Holy Loch and Rota, US geographic advantage) need not be registered in the agreement or side understanding. A side understanding of unspecified form would record the details of the understanding about the SL freeze.

I do not believe this to be the final Soviet position and will propose through normal channels alternative approaches looking toward negotiating an acceptable arrangement.


Gerard Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusive Eyes Only for Kissinger at Camp David. Copies were sent to Haig, Sonnenfeldt, and Howe.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 272.
  3. See Document 262.
  4. Attached but not printed.