67. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon 1

I have been filled in on your Wednesday meeting with the NSC on SALT.2 I would like to add a few points for your personal consideration as you write the Decision Memorandum.

All agencies apparently expressed support for Option A3 as a starting point. I am concerned because we support Option A only as a possible first agreement to result from negotiations, and only if all of its provisions, or their strategic equivalents, are won. To reach such an agreement, the U.S. must start from a safer option, from which to compromise to Option A as it is currently formulated.

I support the view that reductions should be established as the ultimate U.S. goal, so that our negotiating positions and any initial agreements will be consistent with that goal.

I suggest:

That you establish substantial reductions of strategic offensive weapons as the ultimate U.S. goal.

That when the U.S. does table an initial proposal, it be considerably more favorable to the U.S. than the present formulation of Option A.

That the present formulation of Option A represents the furthest that the U.S. should compromise in an initial agreement.

That Option D is the most desirable basis for an initial proposal for the U.S. to table. It sets a good foundation for compromising towards Option A. It rationalizes our insistence on stopping the SS–9s at 250 and the total number of offensive missiles at 1710. It rationalizes the provision to substitute sea-based for land-based systems. It shows that the U.S. is prepared to reduce our forces substantially rather than stopping Soviet systems only.

Melvin R. Laird 4
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files:FRC 330–76–076, Box 12, USSR, 388.3. Top Secret; Sensitive. On April 9 Haig sent this memorandum to Lynn with the following note: “I recognize it is too late for the work you have already done but it is sufficiently important that you consider this work in the light of this new memorandum.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 876, SALT, Volume VII)
  2. See Document 65.
  3. Options A–D were described and discussed during the NSC meeting.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Laird signed the original.