29. Memorandum From Frank Perez of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Technological Consequences of a MIRV Flight Ban

The attached assessment of the technological consequences for the U.S. and the Soviets of a ban on the flight testing and deployment of multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRV’s)2 reflects the suggestions and recommendations made at the July 16 meeting of the MIRV group.3 The study now addresses the various types of MIRV concepts; the types of testing which must be banned for an effective MIRV test ban, as well as certain constraints which would assist in the verification task; the possibilities for circumventing a MIRV ban; the impact of a MIRV ban on existing weapons systems; the differences in view concerning the workability of a MIRV test ban; and the MIRVABM interrelationships.

Any agreement with the Soviets to ban the flight testing of MIRV’s would need to be very specific in terms of what types of testing are prohibited. To minimize the possibility of cheating, it would be necessary to impose a ban on the testing of all multiple reentry vehicles, maneuvering reentry vehicles (including any post-boost maneuvering vehicle), multiple reentry vehicle dispensing mechanisms, and endo-atmospheric pen-aids.

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There are a number of tests or test-related restrictions which, although not essential, would ease the verification task if they were explicitly agreed to beforehand. Among these would be an agreement to conduct tests of strategic missiles only on agreed test ranges and at preannounced times and an agreement to continue to transmit telemetry. The banning of space tests which place multiple payloads in orbits would reduce the risk of the clandestine development of a MIRV dispensing mechanism. Prohibition of exoatmospheric pen-aids testing would ease the verification task; [1½ lines not declassified].

[1 paragraph (15 lines) not declassified]

[1 paragraph (14 lines) not declassified]

It is clear that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to covertly deploy MIRV’s under a ban which prohibited deployment of such systems, and this would be evident to the Soviets. We could, however, take some steps to reduce the lead-time to a MIRV operational capability if the agreement were abrogated. An example is the conversion of Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines to carry Poseidon. Moreover, although we probably would not be confident enough to deploy our MIRV at its present state of development in other than an assured destruction role, it might be very difficult to persuade the Soviets that we had not already achieved a hard-target capability. As for the Soviets, should they achieve development of a MIRV system prior to a ban on MIRV testing, we see little prospect of determining the extent to which MIRV’s had been incorporated in deployed missiles without highly intrusive on-site inspections.

Frank H. Perez
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box SCI 18, NSC Files, MIRV Panel. Top Secret.
  2. Attached but not printed is the July 23 report of the MIRV Panel prepared for Kissinger entitled “The Technological Consequences of a MIRV Flight Ban.” Perez wrote the report with the cooperation of representatives from the Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Central Intelligence Agency, and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The paper contained five sections that addressed the following questions: “What are the various types of MIRV concepts? What collateral testing must be prohibited for an effective MIRV test ban? What other constraints would be desirable, if not mandatory? What are the U.S. and Soviet circumvention possibilities? What are the implications of a MIRV flight ban for U.S. and USSR weapon systems or space systems? and What are the fundamental differences in viewpoints concerning the workability of a MIRV test and deployment ban?”
  3. The MIRV Panel was formed by Kissinger to examine issues involved in including MIRVs in an arms control agreement. It met at least four times between June 19 and July 16. Members of the panel, chaired by Kissinger, included Perez, representing the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and representatives from the Department of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering, Central Intelligence Agency, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the NSC staff.