322. Minutes of a Verification Panel Meeting1


  • SALT Submissions


  • Chairman Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • John N. Irwin
    • Ray Garthoff
    • Seymour Weiss
    • Robert Martin
  • DOD
    • Kenneth Rush
    • Gardiner Tucker
    • Paul Nitze
  • Archie Wood
    • JCS
    • Lt. Gen. Royal B. Allison
  • CIA
    • Bruce Clarke
    • Jack Maury
  • ACDA
    • Gerard Smith
    • Philip Farley
    • Spurgeon Keeny
  • OST
    • Dr. Edward David
  • AEC
    • James Schlesinger
  • NSC Staff
    • Philip Odeen
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
    • William Hyland
    • Col. Jack Merritt
    • James T. Hackett
[Page 933]


  • —The SALT documents to be sent to the Congress should include a list of all initialed statements. Mr. Kissinger will seek the President’s decision as to whether other statements should be listed separately or included in the body of Secretary Rogers’ letter. The package submitted is not to be called a comprehensive list of SALT documents.
  • —The members of the Verification Panel will submit their agencies’ views on whether a reference to the fact of satellite verification should be included in the SALT documents being submitted to the Congress.
  • —The Working Group will prepare a statement to be sent to the Soviets, informing them that it is our interpretation that they cannot count “G” class submarines as subject to replacement by modern ballistic missile submarines.
  • —The Working Group will prepare a draft interpretation stating when the Soviets must begin dismantling their SS–7/8s or “H” class subs, which will be based on the date the next new sub goes under construction.
  • NATO must be informed soon about the unilateral Soviet reservation on British/French subs.

Mr. Kissinger: I’d like to discuss a few questions concerning the SALT agreements before we begin testifying on the Hill. We won’t submit the treaty to Congress until Monday, June 12, which gives us time to clear up some of the details. Does this raise any problems for anyone?

Mr. Irwin: The date of submission? That presents no problems.

Mr. Schlesinger: Will the congressional committees be informed?

Mr. Kissinger: You mean about the date of submission?

Mr. Schlesinger: Yes, they should be told when to expect it.

Mr. Kissinger: They will be told. The strategy is to go to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Armed Forces Committee. Now, we have certain unresolved problems. One is how to count replacements and another is what we should do regarding “G” class subs. Still another issue, one that Gerry (Smith) raised, is how many interpretive statements we should submit to the Congress. No one objects to the submission of the agreed interpretations, the question is whether to submit the unilateral ones. This has been raised with Gromyko and he agrees that we can submit them. We thought we should do so. What is your point of view, Gerry (Smith)?

Amb. Smith: I see no point in submitting a great mass of material that is only going to lead to a lot of confusion. We’ve been having discussions with the Russians for a long time and have reached a number of understandings on a variety of technical issues. Now if we start submitting all of these unilateral understandings to the Congress, the question is where do you cut them off? The more we tell them, the [Page 934] more they will want to know, and I don’t think we should get into the technical details too deeply. My suggestion is that we submit both agreed and unilateral interpretations in the body of the statement.

Mr. Irwin: We have three separate sets of documents here. We have the agreements themselves, the agreed interpretations and the unilateral interpretations. There seems to be no question about the submission of the first two. It is the handling of the unilateral interpretations that is at issue.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, take the silo dimension question. The Soviets don’t understand it. We spent a long time explaining it to them, and now you don’t want to submit it!

Amb. Smith: I would submit the agreed, intialed agreements, but not the unilateral or uninitialed statements.

Mr. Kissinger: So the difference between what we propose to do and what you want to do is actually the degree of inclusiveness.

Amb. Smith: I would include all important agreements in a single long document to be transmitted to the Congress and then draw on any other understandings as required during the testimony on the Hill.

Mr. Kissinger: Would you leave out the unilateral Soviet statement that they should receive compensation in the agreement for the British/French submarines?

Amb. Smith: Yes, and I would also leave out my statement on zero ABMs.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, if that were in, it would include everything.

Amb. Smith: I’m worried about these items. We have many understandings that we reached in the meetings of four on which the agreements were based, but that doesn’t make them part of the agreements.

Mr. Tucker: What Gerry (Smith) is saying is that we could collect this material and add it to the papers going to the Hill, but this would imply that the submission is all-inclusive and he doesn’t want to imply this.

Mr. Kissinger: We should include things relevant to their or our understandings. The question of zero ABMs is not relevant and should not be included in any case.

Mr. Garthoff: If we give the Hill the whole Soviet statement on British/French subs, it is likely to raise the question of what we are going to do in the follow-on discussions on this subject.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, what are you going to do when the Soviets start leaking their unilateral statement on British/French subs? You can be sure they will leak it to the NATO countries if we don’t disclose it. [to Deputy Secretary Rush]2 What is your view?

[Page 935]

Mr. Rush: I don’t think these things should be listed separately. It would be better to bury them in the contents of the letter.

Mr. Kissinger: [to Under Secretary Irwin] And your view?

Mr. Irwin: It seems clear to me that we must include some of these understandings, in which case they (the Congress) will ask if they are complete. Then what do we say?

Mr. Kissinger: Is there any objection to listing the agreed statements but not the unsigned statements?

Mr. Irwin: As I understand Gerry (Smith), he would include everything, but in the body of the letter rather than in a separate list.

Mr. Garthoff: There are many common understandings that could or could not be included, depending on how you want to handle it.

Mr. Kissinger: A considerable amount of time, no, an inordinate amount of time, was spent in Moscow on the document prepared there and we cannot suppress it.

Mr. Rush: Why can’t we list a series of agreed statements?

Amb. Smith: We can have a separate category for items negotiated at Moscow.

Mr. Kissinger: I don’t give a damn about that! It doesn’t matter where it was negotiated, that’s irrelevant. Why can’t we just list it as an agreed statement? The Russians won’t protest that.

Mr. Garthoff: We have a total of twelve initialed statements.

Mr. Kissinger: Why not just list all of the common understandings?

Mr. Nitze: Or a current list of agreed and interpretive statements.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s O.K. with me. I will check with the President and inform you of his decision. Now as I understand it, you would list all initialed statements and include in the body of the letter all relevant statements, but would not claim this to be a comprehensive list. Is everyone agreed on that approach?

Mr. Schlesinger: How would we handle the Russian reservation?

Mr. Kissinger: We must tell NATO and soon. It is much better to be forthright and honest now than to have it leak out later and be accused of duplicity. We can just present their unilateral statement and follow it with Gerry’s (Smith) firm rejection. Don’t you agree?

Mr. Schlesinger: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: What are you planning to do about land mobiles?

Amb. Smith: We’ll include it in the text.

Mr. Kissinger: Now, on replacement, there are two interpretations: (1) when the Soviets’ 741st ballistic missile goes to sea, replacement must begin, or (2) take their word for it until the next boat goes on sea trials, at which time replacement must begin. They claimed in Moscow that they had 768 ballistic missiles in service or under construction, so [Page 936] the question really is an interpretation of what is construction. How do we interpret when construction begins? I may add that this interpretation, whatever is determined, may also affect the ULMS program. Paul (Nitze), do I understand correctly that in your view replacement should begin immediately?

(Mr. Nitze answered affirmatively, basing his opinion on the inclusion of a “the” and the location of a comma in the Soviet text of the agreement.)

Mr. Kissinger: The record of our discussions in Moscow supports either interpretation. The question is, which is more in our interest?

Amb. Smith: Well, politically, it would be better to say that the Soviets have to start fresh and begin destruction of their old systems immediately. This would certainly help us with the Congress; however, we have an agreement with the Russians and if we start arguing about the location of commas in the agreement I will be asked on the Hill if this is an agreed interpretation. That will be hard to answer, but it will be even worse if the Congress gets the idea that Soviets have agreed to begin replacements immediately. If that impression takes hold and they don’t start dismantling right away, there will then be charges that they are breaking the agreement right at the start. I would prefer to stick to an arbitrary interpretation that when the 741st launcher goes to sea they must begin dismantling.

Mr. Tucker: There actually are three different interpretations of this point: (1) when the total number of launchers in service and undergoing sea trials exceeds 740, (2) when the boat with the 740th launcher goes into construction or (3) when the 741st tube goes to sea. Depending on the interpretation, the Russians have to start tearing down when that point is reached.

Mr. Kissinger: It seems to me that the record in Moscow is most consistent with Number 2, since the Soviets claim to have 768 in service or under construction now.

Amb. Smith: But we don’t know when construction begins under their definition.

Mr. Tucker: Garthoff has discussed this with the Russians at some length. It was not an interpretation of the number of tubes under construction but rather the number of subs under construction that seemed acceptable to Semenov, who said it would be submitted to the mini-plenary. Of course, there hasn’t been time for them to submit it yet.

Amb. Smith: Don’t we have a problem with the difference between what we believe they are doing and what they claim they are?

Mr. Tucker: We do have a problem with regard to the subs under construction, but we can keep track of them when they go to sea.

[Page 937]

Amb. Smith: The key point is that we must have an interpretation the Soviets will live up to.

Gen. Allison: Their definition of “under construction” is when the hull arrives in the construction hall. I had a long discussion with the Soviet admiral on the delegation, who also understood the interpretation of this point to be the second one listed by Gardiner (Tucker)—the one you (Mr. Kissinger) agree with.

Mr. Kissinger: Yes, I agree with it, but if we and the Soviets define when construction begins differently, then we will be in disagreement.

Mr. Garthoff: We had a long discussion on when construction should begin, whether it is when the hulls actually enter the construction hall or at some other stage along the way.

Amb. Smith: Remember, they said that you were trying to interfere with Soviet naval construction practices by trying to pin them down on these definitions?

Mr. Garthoff: That’s right.

Mr. Kissinger: The only two real choices are when the 741st launcher emerges from construction or when the next sub goes into construction.

Mr. Garthoff: For the sake of having something to count from you could call the next sub to go under construction replacement sub No. 1. If we do this and start counting now, dismantling would not begin until 1974.

Amb. Smith: Can we tell the Soviets this is the public position we will take?

Mr. Kissinger: Why not? That’s a good idea.

Mr. Clarke: There was a Soviet launch at the end of May and a number of hull sections are now lined up outside the construction hall ready to be moved onto the line. This one would be the first replacement sub.

Mr. Kissinger: What number is it in our count?

Mr. Clarke: Number 42 or 44 was just launched, so the one going under construction would be either number 43 or 45.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s consistent with our count. They say they have 48 at sea or under construction.

Amb. Smith: Semenov consistently made the statement that they had 48 subs either at sea or under construction.

Mr. Kissinger: If they have 16 launchers per boat, that would be a total of 768, consistent with their statement.

Mr. Clarke: Between 10 and 13 of the boats could be 12 tube boats. Of the eight under construction, either six are 12 tube boats and two 16 tube subs, or all eight have 12 tubes. We have a strong suspicion that three of the four currently fitting out have 12 tubes, and possibly all four.

[Page 938]

Mr. Hyland: If Bruce’s (Clarke) estimates are correct, it will be only four more boats before they reach 741 launchers, or about six months construction.

Mr. Kissinger: All right, can somebody draft this interpretation?3 I’d like to have it on paper.

Mr. Odeen: We’ll draft it right away.

Amb. Smith: How would you present this to the Soviets?

Mr. Kissinger: I would tell them this is our interpretation and we want to use it in our explanation of the treaty on the Hill.

Mr. Irwin: We should get it to the Soviets and get their view by Sunday (June 11), before it is presented to Congress.

Mr. Kissinger: Now regarding the “G” class, older subs, do they have the right to retire “G” class subs and replace them with new ones?

Mr. Schlesinger: It depends on whether you mean old or new “G” class. Only ten of them are new.

Mr. Kissinger: We’re talking about new ones. We tried to get them to count “G” class subs in the 740 total figure, but they argued that they were not nuclear and therefore shouldn’t be counted. It would be senseless for them to claim that they are not modern and should not be counted and then to argue that they should have a replacement right for them.

Mr. Nitze: They are diesel submarines.

Mr. Kissinger: The reason they are not being counted is not because they are diesel, but rather because they carry short range missiles.

Gen. Allison: That will make the allies unhappy. The short range missiles can reach them but not us. So by our not including them in the agreement, the allies can charge that we don’t care about their protection.

Mr. Nitze: What do you mean they can’t reach us! These “G” class subs have been on station against the continental U.S. and now they plan to use them against our allies.

Mr. Clarke: They haven’t been on station against us for years, at least since 1967.

Mr. Nitze: They had them on station during the Cuban missile crisis. When I was Secretary of the Navy they were on station against us. They were a matter of great concern to us.

Mr. Clarke: Sir, that was a long time ago. They have been carried for at least the last five years as only a peripheral threat.

[Page 939]

Amb. Smith: They do not carry modern ballistic missiles.

Mr. Rush: I don’t think they should be subject to replacement.

Mr. Kissinger: [to Under Secretary Irwin] What do you think?

Mr. Irwin: I would take Ken’s (Rush) view and not count them.

Mr. Kissinger: Then we need to do a statement on this and get it to the Soviets.

Mr. Odeen: We’ll get it out.

Mr. Kissinger: In their present configuration, the “G” class subs are out of the deal.

Mr. Nitze: Can they reconfigure them?

Mr. Kissinger: I suppose they could piece together a total of 950 missiles by putting modern missiles on the “G” class subs.

Mr. Clarke: That would be prohibitively expensive.

Mr. Garthoff: If they want to spend that much money they can do it, but it wouldn’t make sense.

Mr. Wood: Under the agreement, they would have to take down SS–7s or SS–8s to put modern missiles on “G” class subs.

Mr. Kissinger: You’re right, they would. It would be absurd to do that!

Mr. Rush: I would like to discuss satellites before we finish. It’s very important that we have a clear understanding of what position we are to take on the Hill regarding verification by satellites. What I would like to do is mention satellites and acknowledge that they provide a means of verification, but not go into any details.

Mr. Kissinger: Does anyone disagree with that position?

Mr. Irwin: I agree with Ken (Rush). The problem is that we have never acknowledged it publicly before.

Amb. Smith: I think it’s O.K. It’s been a king without clothes for the last ten years. I see no problem in admitting it now, but we should tell the Soviets in advance that we’re going to announce it.

Mr. Kissinger: We should not ask the Soviets if we can announce it.

Mr. Rush: What is to prevent the Soviets from building nine or ten new subs within the five year period, but not put them to sea? They would be way ahead of us at the end of the five years.

Mr. Kissinger: We could do the same thing with ULMS.

Mr. Rush: Under the ULMS program we could build one in 1978 and three in 1979. They could have twice as many ready in the same period of time.

Amb. Smith: The answer is that the Soviets can build any number they want and we can do the same thing, so long as they aren’t launched. But if they tried something like that, it would be a clear example of bad faith and we could exercise the escape clause.

[Page 940]

Gen. Allison: There is no reference to satellites in the release.

Mr. Kissinger: So we will acknowledge the fact but not the details, are we agreed on that?

Gen. Allison: Is that agreeable to Helms? I don’t think it is.

Mr. Rush: I believe so. I had lunch with him today, but I didn’t discuss that.

Gen. Allison: It was originally in the text and was taken out to avoid making it public. I am here representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I can say that the JCS wanted it out of the text and they don’t want it back in. I think the CIA agrees with that view.

Mr. Clarke: We would prefer to keep it out.

Mr. Odeen: We have had changes here today in the positions of OSD and CIA on this.

Mr. Rush: Did I change our position?

Mr. Tucker: Well, I helped you change it, sir.

Mr. Odeen: In view of these changes, we would like to have a brief position paper from everyone on this point. Could we have it ASAP? By tomorrow?

All agreed.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–108, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 3/15/72 to 6-4-74. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. All brackets are in the original.
  3. See Document 323.