311. 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

WH0072/Hakto 37. Ref: your 0445.2

Meetings here on SALT occurring sporadically between President’s meetings with Soviet leaders. Your latest views very helpful in late evening session.3 Gromyko handed over following proposal:

“Text of the Protocol to the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures With Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Defensive Arms:

‘The Parties understand that in accordance with Article III of the interim agreement, for the period during which this agreement remains in force:

The U.S.A. may have not more than 710 submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and not more than 44 modern submarines with BMs. The Soviet Union may have not more than 950 submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and not more than 62 modern submarines with ballistic missiles.

Additional submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers up to the above mentioned levels for the U.S.A.—in excess of 656 nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and for the U.S.S.R.—in excess of 740 nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, operational and under construction, may become operational as replacements for equal numbers of launchers for ICBMs of older types constructed before 1964 or of ballistic missile launchers of older submarines.

This protocol shall be regarded as an integral part of the interim agreement.’

The US side will take an obligation in a written form not to construct additionally 3 submarines in excess of 41. The text of the undertaking shall be agreed with the Soviet side.”

In ensuing discussion, Soviets made clear all H-class included in 740 total.
We offered for Soviet consideration following text based on paragraph 4(b) of your cable. [Page 898]

“Deployment of modern submarine launched ballistic missiles on any submarine, regardless of type, will be counted against the total submarine-launched ballistic missiles permitted for the U.S. and the USSR.”

On issues discussed in early telegrams believe these can be settled between you and Soviet Delegation, but signing not likely until Sunday.
Your views on Soviet SLBM protocol text and our draft proposal would be appreciated.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Copies were sent to Haig, Howe, and Odeen.
  2. Document 309.
  3. See Document 308.