281. 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

WH21351. Dobrynin handed me the text of two instructions provided to Soviet Delegation by Moscow today.2 They read as follows:

  • “1. Additional launchers on submarines—in excess of the 48 modern submarines operational and under construction—will be put in commission in the Soviet Union in lieu of older-type ICBM launchers built before 1964 and in lieu of launchers on older-type submarines.
  • “2. Therefore, the Soviet side proceeds from the premise that the whole of this problem and primarily the issue of dismantling the U.S. missile submarine bases outside the U.S. territory will find their appropriate solution in the course of subsequent negotiations.”

I made no comment but you should be aware that we still do not consider the term “premise” as acceptable if it carries any implication that it is a shared premise.

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President now believes you should plan on travel to Moscow so as to arrive there Thursday afternoon, May 25 Moscow time. He wants you to bring Nitze and Allison.3

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Kissinger met Dobrynin at noon on May 17, and the Soviet Ambassador handed him the instructions that Kissinger transmitted to Smith. Kissinger did not mention this in his memorandum of conversation. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 239 and ibid., Document 243, footnote 2.
  3. Kissinger and Dobrynin met on May 18 at Camp David, following a breakfast meeting that included President Nixon. According to a memorandum of conversation prepared by Kissinger of the post-breakfast discussion, the following exchange took place about SALT: “Dobrynin then asked me about a number of questions from the SALT negotiations, specifically, a sub-limit on the conversion of old missiles to new ones and the conversion of Titans to submarines that had been raised by our Delegation in Helsinki. I told him that the former issue was important; the second issue was marginal. Dobrynin said it was a pity I had not raised both issues five days earlier, since they probably could have been resolved in our sense. I told him to make an effort anyway.” For the full text of the memorandum of conversation, see ibid., Document 243. A memorandum for the President’s file on the breakfast meeting is ibid., Document 242.