285. 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

410. Dear Henry:

Re your W.H. 21372:2

My message no. 0409,3 which apparently crossed yours, should be responsive to most points made in your message. I will do my best to meet President’s wishes.

Soviet Delegation’s instructions are negative on mobiles, definition of heavy missiles and geographic area for ABM defense area definition. I had planned to make our “concessions” on mobiles and heavy missile definition starting tomorrow, but after Semenov’s performance tonight, I judged it better to start this process Sunday.4

Re your suggestion that we might agree that neither side should replace current light missiles with new ones significantly larger than largest light missile that either side currently has (with understanding that significant means 10 percent larger), I would like 12 hours to consult with our experts.

My central concern is Soviet claim that replacement of SL/IC’s start only with 49th boat. This “free ride” strikes me as completely unacceptable. I know of no way to justify such a “bonus” to Soviets and would recommend to President that it not be accepted. Some form of summit declarations re SL programs of the two sides during freeze period would be possible fallback position.

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. A copy was sent to Sonnenfeldt.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 283.
  3. Document 284.
  4. May 21.