288. 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

WTE 16. Subject: SLBM.

We cannot accept 48 modern submarines as Soviet base point, if they insist that this includes only Y class or newer. It it imperative for Congressional reasons that there must be some retirement of H and G classes involved in Soviet reaching level of 62. For this reason, Soviet base point should be about 41–43, which corresponds to real situation.
It is also imperative that total of 950 for Soviets includes modern missiles no matter on what submarine they are deployed.
Phrasing in our proposals on procedures for dismantling and replacement must be amended to permit us to lay keels of ULMs without having to destroy Polaris.
You should act on these points immediately; these instructions will also follow through normal channels.2
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Flash; Eyes Only. A copy was sent to Haig. Kissinger was with the President who visited Austria May 20–22 before proceeding to Moscow.
  2. Telegram 89509 to USDEL SALT, May 21, provided the guidance contained herein. (Ibid., Box 883, SALT, SALT talks (Helenski) [sic], Vol. 18, May–August 1972)