290. 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

421. For delivery on arrival at Moscow Airport. Subject: Heavy ICBM’s. Ref: WH21470.2

In response to referenced message, I will persist in effort to set agreed formulation on heavy missiles. I have modified possible unilateral statement appended to my 04153 to read as follows:

“The U.S. Delegation regrets that the Soviet Delegation has not been prepared to agree on a mutually acceptable interpretive statement relating to Article II of the interim agreement. Rather than agree upon an inadequate statement, the United States now withdraws its proposal for an agreed interpretive statement relating to Article II. We note the repeated statements by the Soviet side that our concerns will be met by the terms of Article II under which the parties undertake not to convert land-based launchers for light ICBM’s, or for ICBM’s of older types deployed prior to 1964, to land-based launchers for heavy ICBM’s of types deployed after that time. The Soviet Delegation has repeatedly stated that there is a common understanding as to what constitutes a light ICBM, and as to what constitutes a heavy ICBM. The United States’ understanding on this matter had been repeatedly communicated to the Soviet side. The United States would consider any ICBM having a volume significantly greater than that of the largest light ICBM now operational on either side to be a heavy ICBM. The U.S. proceeds on the premise that the Soviet side will give due account to this U.S. understanding.”

Warm regards.

Gerard Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Flash; Sensitive; Exclusive; Eyes Only. Haig initialed the message. A copy was sent to Odeen.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 289.
  3. Document 289.