284. 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

409. Dear Henry:

Semenov called private meeting this evening. He acknowledged receipt of our formulations re SL inclusion—(a) generalized Article III; (b) accompanying protocol giving specifics.

He had new instructions re answers to my questions of yesterday:

Their definition of a modern submarine is a nuclear-powered submarine which became operational after 1965. (This means Yankees only.)
Replacement would start beginning with the 49th submarine.

He ducked any explanation of the significance of the number 48 and any explanation of the relationship of 48 to “operational and under construction” at this time. He said that 48 was a number originated by us. I denied having suggested any such number. He hinted at a failure of communication in our system.

He hinted at a willingness to acknowledge U.S. right to convert old IC’s to SL’s if U.S. would guarantee not to have more than 41 boats during freeze.

He rejected proposed U.S. positions on mobiles, definition of heavy ICBM’s and “east of Urals” restraint for Soviet ICBM defense deployments.

I propose to continue to follow NSDM 2 guidance on SL inclusion which is not consistent with Soviet position of 48 Yankees as threshold for replacement.

Warm regards.

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. Copies were sent to Haig and Sonnenfeldt.
  2. Reference is to NSDM 167, Document 279.