330. Note From President Nixon to the Soviet Leadership1

With respect to paragraph one of the Soviet oral note,2 the U.S. side accepts the Soviet understanding, provided that each time the phrase “ballistic missile launchers” is used in that paragraph it is understood that this refers to “modern” ballistic missile launchers as defined by the explanatory paragraph of the Soviet note. The record is clear that the only ballistic missile launchers on diesel powered submarines [Page 969] that count within the aggregate levels of SLBM launchers established by the Protocol are “modern” ones. Any other interpretation would permit a situation where missiles that are not counted within the 740 SLBM total could be counted within the 950 aggregate, and thus could be used as replacements. This is clearly not the meaning of the Protocol or of the record.

With respect to paragraph two, we accept the premise that national means of verification are adequate to determine when the nuclear submarine carrying the first ballistic missile launcher in excess of 740 SLBM’s begins sea trials. Notification of the commencement of the replacement process will, of course, take place in accordance with the agreed statement of the U.S. and Soviet delegations in Helsinki. If we are asked in the course of Congressional proceedings to indicate the time when this will occur we will state that (1) we expect the first replacement boat to enter the construction halls no later than six months from now, and (2) we expect that boat to commence sea trials in approximately two years.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 12. Top Secret. According to a handwritten notation, Haig sent the note to Dobrynin by courier at 2 p.m. At 8:40 a.m. that morning Kissinger and Dobrynin spoke about the note, which Kissinger promised to deliver that afternoon: “D: I didn’t quite get what you said last time. K: I mean I’m assuming that what the record sustains is that the only missiles that are counted on the G-Class submarines are modern missiles and if they’re not modern they cannot be used either for replacement nor are they counted in the total.” Dobrynin replied that he understood. (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 14, Chronological File)
  2. Document 329.