92. Summary of a Verification Panel Meeting1

The Panel discussed four technical issues:

  • —unauthorized missile launches and other acts that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons;2
  • —missile launches beyond national territory;3
  • —mass aircraft launches;4
  • —detection of unidentified objects.5

With respect to each of these issues, Dr. Kissinger raised four questions:

Which events in the last ten years would have been covered?
What communication facilities are required?
What is the significance or relevance of the danger that would be controlled?
What are the main ambiguities in the proposal?6

  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. Top Secret. The summary was prepared by the NSC staff. According to minutes of the meeting, it was held from 3 to 4 p.m. and was attended by: Kissinger, Packard, Farley, Demler, Helms, Spiers, Von Ins, Odeen, Martin, Lynn, Slocombe, Clarke, and Sonnenfeldt. (Ibid.) A memorandum for the record and notes on the meeting, both prepared in OSD, are in the Ford Library, Laird Papers, Box 25, SALT, Chronological File.
  2. According to the minutes of the meeting, the members discussed the ways, ranging from bombers, seizure of weapons by an ally, and improper notification by overload circuits, that an unauthorized launch could occur.
  3. According to the minutes, the members discussed the implications, advantages, and difficulties involved but did not reach any firm conclusions. Kissinger called for further exploration by the Working Group.
  4. The members discussed whether the Soviets would need to notify the United States and the converse. They briefly mentioned effects on international flight procedures and B–52 air alerts.
  5. The members discussed the problems with existing warning systems used to detect unidentified objects. On this point and on the proposals generally, Kissinger stressed the need to obviate international fears of a U.S.-Soviet condominium if a proposal on preventing nuclear accidents and provocative attacks were linked to a SALT agreement.
  6. Kissinger directed Lynn to have the Working Group examine the questions and prepare a paper for the Verification Panel meeting scheduled for July 15. According to a July 14 covering memorandum to Kissinger that sent him materials for the July 15 meeting, Lynn explained that, given the short turn-around time, the paper was an inadequate basis for decisions. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–005, Verification Panel Meeting—SALT 7/15/70)