309. Backchannel Message From the Chief of the Delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Smith) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

445. Message for Dr. Henry A. Kissinger in Moscow. Eyes Only. Please deliver immediately.

Dear Henry:

Re your telecon tonight:2

I do not feel sufficiently clued in to Moscow exchanges to give categorical advice regarding your telephone inquiry.
I do not understand reason for apparent switch from this morning’s reported position that Soviets would accept Article III with its “immediate replacement” formula.
In these circumstances, I can only advise President to hold to present U.S. position tonight. I would add parenthetically that difference between U.S. and USSR positions appears to me to be 60 old launchers on 20 diesel boats (plus 2 additional G-class test beds with 10 modern launchers on them).

If, subsequently, President finds it necessary to adjust U.S. position, he might consider following line. If:

Soviet position is that 60 old launchers on 20 diesel boats would make the difference between a major strategic arms limitation agreement or no agreement, and if our position therefore is that these diesel boats need not be included in the freeze;
The Soviets will agree to have not more than these 20 diesel SL subs (plus the 2 test beds) during the freeze and not to place modern SLBM launchers on them;
They agree that any modern replacements for these diesel boats must be counted under the 950–62 ceilings;

the U.S. could agree.

However, such adjustment should be based on the understanding that any additional modern SLBM submarine started after the date of the signature of the agreement will count as a replacement submarine, and must be accompanied by dismantling of appropriate number of H-class subs and/or SS–7’s and SS–8’s.
It is easier to state these conditions than to spell out a formulation for an agreement that could be explained logically, [garble—but in view of short time in which you wanted answer,] this is best I can suggest.3

Warm regards.

Gerard Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, SALT 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Flash; Exclusive Eyes Only. Copies were sent to Howe and Odeen. The message was sent to Kissinger in Moscow in telegram Tohak 162, May 25, 2055Z; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 278.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. An attached note reads, “Jon—per Sit[uation] Room, the garble in cable should read: ‘But in view of short time in which you wanted answer’ Para 6.” This was the text sent to Kissinger in Tohak 162. In backchannel message 446 to Haig for Kissinger, May 25, Smith elaborated on the G-class issue: “After mulling over further G-Class omission issue, and given our intelligence estimates and definition of ‘under construction,’ I see no way to meet simultaneously all three following conditions: a) Soviet desired levels 62–950; b) Soviet desire to exclude G-Class; and c) U.S. need for rational explanation of agreed formulation that would not be a clear admission of a ‘free ride’ for Soviets.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, SALT 1972)