85. Notes of a Verification Panel Meeting1


  • OSDPackard, Foster, Odeen
  • JCSMoorer and Allison
  • State—Spiers and Garthoff
  • ACDASmith, Farley and Keeny
  • CIACushman and Duckett
  • NSCKissinger, Lynn, Sonnenfeldt, Hyland and Slocum


Kissinger: Purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss:

Where we stand
What decisions we face

Have we explored every aspect of present options?

How about MIRVs? Perhaps we should explore production ban.

Smith: Soviets not interested in MIRV ban—Further discussion might confuse, complicate limited quick decision. This would lead to the OSI question—no future in that subject.

[Page 292]

Packard, Moorer and Cushman agreed.

Kissinger: Let’s discuss OSI—what can we find out about MIRVs from OSI?

Foster: Can tell if a missile has a MIRV or not. But stockpiling is possible.

Kissinger: How long would it take to change warheads?

Foster: 6–12 hours.

Packard: We can forget about MIRV and OSI. No hope of agreement.

Foster: MIRV and ABM are related—need MIRVs to counter ABM—only real reason for MIRVs.

Packard: MIRV ban would be OK only if we could get a solid “Zero”ABM agreement.

Smith: From a public relations point of view we should indicate that the follow-on talks will discuss MIRV and reductions.

Spiers: Future MIRV ban impossible. Now or never and probably already too late.

Kissinger: Next question is what type of limited agreement should we consider? Does any one favor just an ABM agreement? No! Dave do you favor Minuteman defense unless the Soviets cut their SS–9 below 250?

Packard: First let me say NCA is not a very useful approach for us. We need to consider equivalency—but Nitze says this approach is not sellable.

Smith: Soviets are very concerned about MM protection. Fear it tempts us to a first strike—also concerned over the growth potential of such a system.

Foster: Can we sell a very limited MM defense?

Smith: They are concerned with a Safeguard-type system. They want to control spread of modern ABM technology.

Kissinger: NCA is more of a threat and provides more area coverage than MM defense.

Packard: I agree—much expansion potential.

Smith: Soviets may be willing to consider MM defense—but this will slow talks. It needs to be explored as we are unsure of their position. It will confuse matters since we already proposed NCA. Any asymmetrical proposal more difficult to negotiate.NCA has advantages for the USSR.

Kissinger: Do we need to justify NCA to Soviets?

Packard: No—to ourselves.

Kissinger: There appear to be two NCA approaches, an expansion system (launchers around Washington and several PARs) or a limited Washington system with only 2 PARs.

[Page 293]

Packard: I prefer Zero but recognize problem of negotiation. Smith—What do you think about Soviet acceptance?

Smith: Soviets have said they will consider it, but my hunch is they will oppose any dismantling.

Lynn: Real issue is how do we treat Henhouse radars? OSD says we should demand dismantling.

Packard: We could build more PARs—e.g., 7 to give us full coverage.

Kissinger: I learned earlier during the pre-Vienna discussions that radar limits must accompany any ABM control. Is this so? What are our options? Didn’t we agree that some Henhouses had to go? A limit on radars is to our advantage unless we also planned to build radars. Without control the Soviets will probably build more, but we won’t. So aren’t we better off with any control that will avoid more Henhouses?

Foster: Compared capabilities of PAR and Henhouse Radars—Henhouses can be considered early warning only if it is unprotected. If protected, then they pose a greater threat as part of an ABM system.

Kissinger: If we must insist on some reduction in Henhouses—how many should be destroyed?

Packard: Soviets see Henhouses as part of their early warning system. I doubt they will agree to any Henhouse destruction that won’t give them 360° coverage.

Kissinger: The real issue is what is right—not what is negotiable.

(Long involved discussion of NCA, Henhouses, BMEWS)

Kissinger: I see two options for NCA—are these all?

  • (1) NCA defense missiles including equivalent radars to Dog House, Try AddHenhouse considered warning and therefore no destruction is demanded.
  • (2) Henhouses are considered to have ABM potential—so we should be able to build an equivalent number. Henhouses and PARs cannot be defended.

(Everyone agreed these were the only realistic options.)

Foster: The problem is you can’t define no defense of Henhouses. SAM Defenses are very close to ABMs today. SAMs can destroy missiles.

Kissinger: Next let’s define Zero ABM—what does it mean?

No Try Add or Doghouse radars plus destruction of Moscow ABM defense.
Henhouse—this is the real problem? Our options:
Assume they are not a problem, e.g., early warning.
Assume they are a problem because of SAM upgrade threat.

Packard: The most reasonable approach is let them keep Henhouses but say we could build PARs.

[Page 294]

Kissinger: Zero ABM. Does everyone agree it is better than NCA, assuming:

  • (a) Soviets destroy Moscow ABM.
  • (b) No more Henhouses can be built, but no destruction.

Moorer: Yes, I agree.

Smith: Yes, but, we are on the NCA track at Vienna—we shouldn’t shift (I believe Allison and Nitze agree—Brown prefers Zero). Raising the Zero ABM will confuse negotiations.

Foster: SAM upgrade remains a problem as long as Soviets have Henhouse radars. (Several others pointed out this is not an issue—An NCA level with Soviet Henhouse radars poses the same problem. Or with no agreement we have the problem, but worse.)

Allison: We shouldn’t foreclose our option to build an ABMUSSR won’t agree to Zero anyway. We need to keep the technology going.

Packard: An NCA defense may be a dead end—Congress probably won’t agree to it.

Kissinger: Why don’t we offer both NCA and Zero. This should help with Congress.

Smith: If we had a Zero level this might lead to cuts in R&D funding. Also we will lose any practical experience operating in ABM.

Packard: Perhaps we could merely agree to NCA or a lower level—matter to be discussed later.

Smith: I don’t like this approach as we don’t want to give impression of uncertainty.

Spiers: State feels we should offer both. This would look good to the American public, Congress, etc.

Foster: But you still have the Henhouse problem. We could face a threat in 5–10 years, if they get mobile SAMs. This is a risky path.

Packard: I share Foster’s concern—but what can we do about it? My judgment is we can take the chance if we keep MIRVs.

Moorer: I agree about the potential problem. But the Soviets are defensive minded and they won’t agree to Henhouse destruction.

Kissinger: Real issue is the difference in our security between a limited SALT agreement status and no agreement status.

Packard: There will be uncertainties—but we will be better off with an agreement. We need to put in prohibitions and some controls on SAM upgrade.

Duckett: We have always been troubled by the extra capability of Henhouses. What is the reason? Let’s ask the Soviets about it.

Packard: There are lots of limitations and questions on SAM upgrading. We can live with the problem.

[Page 295]

Kissinger: Let’s turn to offensive systems. (He summarized the numbers in NSDM–51.)2

Smith proposes 2000 total offensive delivery systems, 1710 missiles and 250 SS–9s.

State suggests 1900, with no missile sub-ceiling but only 250 SS–9s, mobiles OK but no shelters.

OSD suggests 1900 plus or minus 100.

JCS says 2100.

So the range is from 1800 to 2100.

Packard: We should start with the lower figure—we can always back off.

Allison: Should not use too small a number for negotiating reasons as we have talked about 2000 before.

Packard: The key is the SS–9. We must limit it. Can’t say what the exact total number should be now. We will have to examine that.

Kissinger: The President can’t decide the number. We need to show different levels and what different impacts they would have. Lynn should prepare such a paper.

Packard: We also need to address mobiles and shelters—Shelters are a real problem for verification. Therefore, probably not a visible approach. Probably we should rely on sea-based missiles.

Smith: Also mobiles are costly.SALT should help us cut the cost of strategic forces.

Kissinger: Lynn will prepare issue papers for the President. Let’s adjourn now (4:30 P.M.).

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330–76–076, Box 12, USSR, 388.3. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted in the Department of Defense. According to a memorandum for the record prepared in OSD, the meeting was held at 2:30 p.m. in the White House Situation Room. (Ibid.) Minutes of this meeting prepared by the NSC staff are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–107, Verification Panel Minutes Originals 1969–3/8/72.
  2. Document 68.