79. Minutes of a Verification Panel Meeting1

Those in attendance:

Spiers, Richardson, Packard, Tucker, Wheeler, Helms, Farley, Mitchell, Kissinger, Demler, Hyland, Keeny, Duckett, Sonnenfeldt, Lynn, Slocombe.

HAK: Should review where we stand, where to go from here. Instructions to Delegation were: Present D and C, listen to Soviets, President would decide where we go.

Phil, would you give us a report.

Farley: Positions have been presented with a few exceptions:

  • B–52s for Bombers
  • Fallbacks on IR/MR, SLCMs
  • Technical details—OSI
  • Limit on ABM radar
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The Delegation has raised question whether it is necessary or desirable to go much further in setting forth C & D to serve purposes of NSDM 512—i.e., judge Soviet views, acceptability of C & D.

Generally a negotiation with good sense of direction, movement.

HAK: What movement?

Farley: All on the Soviet side.

HAK: Unique in post-war history.

Farley: Non-transfer: moved to Smith’s Helsinki formula.

NCA level ABM.

Side-talks: may be only probes but significant:

  • —rather than withdraw forward-based aircraft, understanding not to increase.
  • —asked about setting aside both tactical air, IR/MRBMs.
  • —some receptivity to limit on size of missiles.

[LEL: Also MIRV ban not essential.]3

Farley: Indicate enough plausibility to think Soviets are interested in seeing if there can be an agreement. Soviets talking about their being great urgency, but feeling of total picture is pretty good.

HAK: Ron?

Spiers: Generally agree. Hard to tell if hints are authoritative, but Soviets don’t hint unless there is some willingness to move in that direction. Talk of hurry is a tactic. Continued mutual discussion of positions is useful.

Mitchell: Are they trying to break out ABM?

Farley: Different things: one Soviet has talked of a separate ABM agreement, another that would have to limit both offensive/defensive but could start talking about ABM in detail, since there is some agreement there.

Spiers: Ready to jump either way.

Mitchell: Would they leak it [“agreement” on NCA] for U.S. domestic purposes?

Farley: Quite possible.

Packard: Encouraged by private conversations. Up to them, just probing. On ABM, we’re in a box because NCA defense isn’t Congressionally tenable. We’re in a difficult position on that.

HAK: Depends on how you define NCA level.

Richardson: Do it like COSVN, could be anyplace.

HAK: You haven’t got directive on taking a positive attitude.

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Packard: Should not get pushed, but have made some progress. Should talk ABM in terms of other levels, zero/Safeguard. See if there’s any interest. I don’t think C is on—too many issues. There are enough indications of their attitude that we should consider putting together another option which would represent what we think could be achieved at this time:

  • —put aside forward based MR/IR.
  • OSI won’t be acceptable; we should think about A or B or variations:
    • —e.g., They’ve indicated interest in mobiles—We could consider land-mobiles as alternative survivability measure for actions defense.
    • —one way mix: I don’t see why we got on to that.

Wheeler: Because JCS opposed it.

HAK: To prevent them trading sea-based for SS–9.

Packard: If we get separate limit on 9s, that would be no problem.

HAK: You want to let them have land mobiles.

Richardson: Should look at it again. We should look again. Delegation should continue explorations while we re-assess U.S. position toward a more acceptable option.

C is not on. Rather than tinkering with it, should get new option.


Packard: I’d push that some more.

Farley: Their categories are different from ours—They put strategic bombers in offensive mix. We could get them in in some way.

Packard: They are concerned about bombers, seem to be thinking of lower number.

HAK: Wheeler, your impression?

Wheeler: Three points:

  • —Time running out is a tactic. We should tell Delegation to settle down;
  • —Some value in issuing some search warrants,4 so long as it is clear that we aren’t making new proposals;
  • —Re-assess U.S. position. We would get only a simple, quantitative agreement—no OSI, no qualitative controls, except maybe missile size.

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HAK: Dick?

Helms: I agree with what has been said. Soviets would prefer to take it item by item, e.g., don’t want to relate ABM to offensive. One of our decisions is whether we want to go on piecemeal basis.

Packard: Real dangers if you talk about individual elements without clearly reviewing final decision until see whole picture. Should explore all three ABM levels.

Farley: We have packages on table, that puts a background to protect us in individual discussion.

HAK: We are, then, agreed:

  • —Go 2–3 weeks on present packages.
  • —Don’t let them get away on their proposal of a MIRV ban without either OSI or flight test controls. Are they serious?
  • —We will face same issues:
    • What is U.S. NCA level ABM? Does it give radars to expand to bigger ABM or strictly a defense of Washington.
    • We should address also:
    • —Where has there been movement on Soviet side; where are their categories different from ours.

Working group will do papers on these issues.

Wheeler: Seems a useful work program.

Richardson: You referred to getting WG to consider indications of of movement.

Agree, but related exercise is a critique of position with each side: where are the logical weaknesses, signs of vulnerability? From this we could consider whether or in what ways we could modify U.S. position.
Also, what’s a search warrant? Difficult job is going to be going from exposition of unilaterally proposed U.S. package to negotiated, bargained actual agreement. Need full chronological/tactical plan. Difficulty of negotiation process of this kind is that neither side is sure where other would give, tending to wait for other to act.

Several suggestions on additional work:

  • —mobiles; HAK: I agree.
  • MIRV production ban: Their position is absurd now, with no OSI or test ban. But we’re in effect proposing stockpiles—which could be hard to defend (domestically).
  • —trade off U.S. IR/MRBM position vs. theirs on forward-based aircraft. Tacit basis?
  • —strategic bombers in aggregate?

Main thing both here and in Vienna is the dynamics/the process of moving from general exposition to hammering out agreement.

Mitchell: First step is search warrants.

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HAK: Two weeks from today, WG will have papers ready. Decision a week or so later.

Packard: What new instructions do we need to get to Vienna before then?

Farley: Delegation doesn’t need too much. Understood they are to draw out Soviets without changing present position. Will tell them that.5 Two week time table is good idea; should be met.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 1969–3/8/72. No classification marking. Kissinger called the meeting in order to discuss issues raised in telegram USDEL SALT 80, May 20, in which Smith asked for revised instructions allowing him more flexibility to explore Soviet reactions to modifications of the U.S. position. On May 22 Sonnenfeldt and Lynn forwarded telegram USDEL SALT 80 to Kissinger. (Ibid., Box 877, SALT, SALT talks (Vienna), Vol. IX, May10–June 12, 1970) On May 25 Lynn sent Kissinger talking points, a copy of USDEL SALT 80, and related enclosures for the Verification Panel meeting. (All ibid., Box 842, ABMMIRV, ABM System, Vol. VI, May 1970–July 31, 1971)
  2. Document 68.
  3. All brackets are in the original.
  4. In telegram USDEL SALT 80, May 20, Smith wrote: “if in the next phase we are to ‘search and explore’ for common ground between the several parts of each side’s basic approaches, it is to be expected that the delegation will be seeking Washington support for ‘search warrants’ that go somewhat beyond the holy writ of NSDM–51.”
  5. In telegram 81896 to USDEL SALT, May 27, Richardson summarized the Verification Panel meeting. He informed the delegation that a list of assessments to assist in understanding the differences between the U.S. and Soviet positions would be forwarded after the Verification Panel Working Group had formulated them. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 877, SALT, SALT talks (Vienna), Vol. IX, May 10–June 12, 1970)