304. 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

WH0059/Hakto 29. President had extensive talks Wednesday night.2 This message being sent 3:45 a.m. Thursday for your immediate reply.

Soviets submitted text location of ABM site to effect that ICBM defense site that’ll be no less than 1300 kilometers from national capital defense site. U.S. would make statement that its ICBM defense will be at Grand Forks, N.D. This is acceptable if you agree. They will table it in Helsinki.
They also provided text on dismantling or destruction of older ICBM’s. They will table it in Helsinki. Answer them there.

Soviets also provided following text of interpretive statement re Article II: “The parties understand that in the process of modernization and replacement the size of land-based ICBM silo launchers will not be increased.”

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It was agreed that we would choose between this formula and previously agreed formula (para 3 SALT 1363)3 which includes the word “significant.” However, significant would be given additional definition of 10–15 per cent. The choice is up to the delegation.

There is no give on missile volume and it was left that we would make unilateral statement.
President requires, for 10 a.m. meeting your immediate comment re acceptability of alternatives in para 3. Please clearly indicate preference.
Most of time taken by discussion of submarines and our attempt to obtain immediate beginning of replacement. They promised answer Thursday 10 a.m. to figure of 740 SLBMs which you had given them as base. Please provide immediate reaction on how 740 figure achieves immediate replacement.
We need reply by no later than 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 25.
Sorry, and warm regards.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, SALT 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Flash; Eyes Only. An information copy was sent to Haig.
  2. May 24; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Documents 265 and 271.
  3. The reference should be to telegram USDEL SALT 1367; see footnote 4, Document 305.