332. Note From the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon1


The Soviet side proceeds on the basis that a formulation in the Protocol to the Interim Agreement concerning the limiting levels of ballistic missile launchers on submarines (950 for the USSR and 710 for the US) no doubt provides for an inclusion in the above-mentioned number of 950 for the USSR of ballistic missile launchers on all submarines including older diesel-powered submarines (known in the United States as the “G-Class”). This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the above formulation of the Protocol does not contain any limiting or clarifying definitions of submarines in contrast to a formulation concerning intermediate levels (740 and 656 respectively for the USSR and the US), in which there is a special reference that in this case ballistic missile launchers of nuclear-powered submarines are meant.

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Besides, the interpretation suggested now by the American side of the number 950 as not covering launchers of older diesel-powered submarines would not correspond to the provision of the Protocol on which the American side itself had insisted earlier and which states that the commissioning in the USSR of additional ballistic missile launchers on submarines up to the above-mentioned ultimate level (950) over 740 ballistic missile launchers on nuclear-powered submarines may be carried out as replacements for equal numbers of ballistic missiles launchers of older types deployed prior to 1964, or of ballistic missile launchers on older submarines.


If, however, the American side for some reason prefers now not to count ballistic missile launchers on diesel-powered submarines (if there are no modern ballistic missiles deployed on such submarines) among the number of 950 of launchers permitted for the Soviet Union, and henceforth not to take them into account in matters connected with the implementation of the Interim Agreement and the Protocol thereof, including the question of the “replacement”, then the Soviet side is ready to meet the wishes of the American side with the understanding that the whole subject of “interpretations” of these documents will be thereby exhausted.

In this case, in order to avoid any misunderstandings in the future the American side should give us an appropriate written text of the interpretation of this question. Such a text, which will be agreed upon beforehand with the Soviet side, should be initialed by an appropriate official. In accepting this text the Soviet Ambassador would be authorized to state that the Soviet side is in agreement with the interpretation therein.

The Soviet side could agree that the aggregate levels of ballistic missile launchers on submarines, established for the sides (950 for the USSR and 710 for the US), cover launchers on all nuclear-powered submarines and launchers of modern missiles which may be deployed on diesel-powered submarines. At the same time it is understood that launchers of older ballistic missiles on diesel-powered submarines are not included in the above-mentioned aggregate levels and therefore can not be used for the purposes of replacement.


The Soviet side confirms the mutual understanding reached in regard to a first “replacement” submarine as well as in regard to fixing the time of commencement of the “replacement” process through national means of control.

As to the formulations received from General Haig of possible answers which the White House intends to give to prospective questions by Congressmen concerning the precise time of the commencement of this process,2 the Soviet side does not deem it necessary to comment on them in any way and cannot, of course, be bound by those formulations.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 12. Top Secret. Dobrynin handed this note to Kissinger during a June 26 meeting, according to a memorandum of conversation prepared by Kissinger. (Ibid.) The note is a response to Nixon’s note, Document 330.
  2. See Document 325.