312. 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

WH0074/Hakto 39. Ref: your 0446.2

Your previous cable seemed much better.3 Can you explain how 60 missiles of 300–700 mile range, barred from modernization, in diesel submarines that have to surface to fire, representing less than 3 per cent of the total Soviet force, could represent a free ride? What are we giving up that we were going to do? The Soviets in turn get a ceiling on their SLBM’s, a ban on modernization of the G-class, and lose 240 launchers.

If the Soviets refuse to accept the compromise, I want someone to explain how our security is enhanced when we then confront the G’s, the H’s, 240 more launchers, and a larger number of SLBM’s.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1972 SALT. Top Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 309.
  3. Document 309.
  4. Kissinger sent a similar message to Haig in telegram Hakto 38. The last sentence in that telegram reads: “Anyone able to answer these questions can criticize. The rest should for once support their President.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 480, President’s Trip Files, President’s Moscow, Iran, Poland, Austria Trip, Hakto File May–June 1972)