101. Minutes of a Meeting of the National Security Council1


  • The Soviet Union And SALT


  • The President
  • Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
  • Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger
  • Director of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Fred Ikle
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George S. Brown
  • Director of Central Intelligence William E. Colby


  • State
  • Deputy Secretary Robert Ingersoll
  • Defense
  • Deputy Secretary William Clements
  • CIA
  • Mr. Carl Duckett
  • White House
  • Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant to the President
  • Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • NSC
  • Jan M. Lodal


President Ford: I am sorry we were delayed. The suggestion was made that I go on national television to explain what the Turks have done and the impact on us, and to urge the House to make a different decision. I might do it tonight, or I might do it from Helsinki.

Bill, why don’t you give us a rundown on where we stand—

Director Colby: Mr. President, let me discuss Brezhnev’s concerns and his position, on the eve of his meeting with you in Helsinki.

[Page 438]

Last winter, when Brezhnev took a seven-week medical leave, his retirement was very much in the air. More recently he himself referred vaguely to it when he met with Senators Humphrey, Scott, and others.

We think it certain, however, that he means to stay on at least through the Party Congress next February. He knows it is his last Congress—they occur every five years—and he doubtless sees it as the occasion for securing his place in Soviet history.

A health accident cannot be ruled out, but he is pacing himself carefully. The odds are good that he will make it through the Congress.

On the foreign policy front, Brezhnev wants to go before the Congress proclaiming the success of détente. The calendar is arranged to provide a crescendo for this theme, with next week’s European security conference and his visit here next fall as high points along the way.

Brezhnev’s chief claim as a statesman rests on the successful management of the Soviet-American relationship.

And SALT, of course, lies at the center of that relationship.

This leads straight to the question of how much room for maneuver he has in defining Soviet terms for an agreement.

He has had some recent political troubles. The trade bill was an important setback. The USSR has slipped further in the Middle East. Most important of all, Brezhnev’s age and health are bound to make him seem a bit of a lame duck. To the extent that his colleagues believe that his days are numbered, they will turn their minds to their own fortunes and futures.

Against this, however, Brezhnev still enjoys imposing political strengths.

—Détente, despite the disappointments of the past year, remains unchallenged as the Soviet general line. It is serving a host of Soviet interests, and serving them well. There are doubtless recurrent differences over specific issues, but the whole Politburo would be dismayed at the thought of a summit failure or cancellation that would bring détente into question.

—There have been notable successes under Brezhnev’s leadership in the past year.

—There are no obvious challengers since the purge of Shelepin last spring.

A key figure in SALT decisionmaking is Marshal Grechko, the 71-year-old Minister of Defense whom Brezhnev elevated to the Politburo in 1973. [3 lines not declassified]

If Grechko vouches in the Politburo for the acceptability of Brezhnev’s SALT proposals, attesting that they would not impair Soviet security, other members would find it difficult to object effectively.

[Page 439]

Also, I should note that the Soviets are keenly aware of the growing tendency in the US to look critically at détente, and the fact that 1976 is an election year. They are realistic enough to reckon that SALT TWO should best be settled fairly quickly.

All this is not to say that Brezhnev is ready to meet our demands on the whole range of issues under dispute in SALT TWO. But the political factors I have discussed do suggest that, in the face of a firm yet even-handed US position, he will make some concessions to assure the success of the negotiations. This conclusion seems to be confirmed by Gromyko’s latest presentation in Geneva.2

Assuming that there will be a SALT TWO agreement, one of the problems will be monitoring Soviet compliance. My remarks today on monitoring a SALT TWO agreement have to be preliminary. A definitive assessment will depend on the provisions of the agreement, including measures to aid verification.

To put the monitoring problem into perspective, I believe the Soviets will have strong incentives not to violate a SALT TWO agreement.

With the ceilings set at Vladivostok, only a large scale cheating effort could be militarily significant as measured by, for example, the potential numbers of Soviet first-strike warheads and the numbers of US warheads which could survive such a strike. Such an effort would carry high risk of detection and serious political risks.

Nevertheless, I feel sure we will still have to contend with monitoring ambiguities and suspicious activities in the SALT TWO era.

This board3 summarizes our evaluation of our capability to monitor the 2,400 aggregate ceiling. As it shows, [2 lines not declassified]

As you know, the Soviets have adamantly opposed including their new Backfire bomber in the aggregate. We believe that Backfire is being deployed initially for use in peripheral operations; its use against the US is an open question.

The bomber has a range capability comparable to the Bison heavy bomber which the Soviets have agreed to count in the aggregate. On a one-way mission from present bases in the USSR without tanker support, Backfire can cover the entire US. Use of tankers or Arctic bases would permit it to make two-way missions.

[7 paragraphs (17 lines) not declassified]

This board shows our current estimate of our ability to monitor the 1,320 MIRV limit in the light of Secretary Kissinger’s talks with Mr. Gromyko.

[Page 440]

If the Soviets agree that all missiles of types tested with both MIRVed and non-MIRVed payloads—like the SS–18—will be counted as MIRVed when deployed, a major ambiguity would be removed.

There is some potential for covert deployment of MIRVed ICBMs. As I pointed out earlier, I think such cheating would be unlikely. Nevertheless, we have evaluated our ability to detect it.

This potential would be limited if the Soviet strategic force evolves as the Intelligence Community has projected.

[1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

[less than 1 line not declassified] Our capabilities to monitor future deployment will depend on the characteristics of the missile and on any treaty measures which might be adopted to aid monitoring.

Our ability to monitor precise numerical limits—both the aggregate and the MIRV sublimit—depends on measures to aid verification and other treaty provisions such as whether mobile ICBMs and long-range cruise missiles are allowed or banned.

The uncertainties which will probably exist should raise no questions about Soviet compliance with the 1,320 ceiling until at least 1980, because the Soviet MIRV force will be well below the limit until then.

By the time the Soviets approach the ceiling, our knowledge of first-generation MIRVed systems probably will have improved significantly. But the follow-on MIRVed systems we expect the Soviets to deploy before 1985 will introduce new ambiguities and uncertainties.

In summary, my judgment is that we will continue to face uncertainties and ambiguities in monitoring a SALT TWO agreement—especially the MIRV limit. We can recognize some of the problems likely to arise in this decade and attempt to introduce treaty measures to make them more manageable.

Such measures are desirable because they can reduce our present monitoring problems, can make cheating more difficult, lessen the chances of controversy, and set useful precedents for handling systems of later generations and for follow-on negotiations involving reductions.

In the 1980s, as new Soviet weapon systems are introduced, new problems will arise which we cannot yet fully anticipate. Our ability to resolve the issues of the eighties will depend on the adequacy of treaty measures to aid monitoring, the effectiveness of the Standing Consultative Commission and—in a very important sense—on our future intelligence collection systems and analytical capabilities.

President Ford: Could I have a copy of that?

Director Colby: You may have this one (Hands briefing script to the President).

President Ford: Does anyone have any questions for Bill?

[Page 441]

Secretary Schlesinger: [6 lines not declassified]

Director Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

President Ford: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Director Colby: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [4 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified]

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Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Schlesinger: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: The problem is the same on the other side if you permit land mobiles—you still don’t solve this problem.

Secretary Schlesinger: You solve it only if you ban all land mobiles, including the IRBMs.

President Ford: Henry, perhaps you could go over the options, review the alternatives, and tell us where we are.

Secretary Kissinger: Mr. President, I don’t think I will go over the Soviet proposals since everyone here is familiar with them. As you know, we have had some earlier discussions with Jim and a meeting with the Verification Panel yesterday.4 I will try to synthesize the range of issues and add some thinking done overnight which hasn’t yet been considered on an interagency basis.

On MIRV verification, we believe we can’t go much further on your level and should now shift that to Geneva. There needs to be a technical discussion of how the counting rules are implemented—how to count SLBMs, how to deal with silo changes, and so forth. These are not very suitable for your discussion with Brezhnev. They have accepted our principles, and until we see if we differ on the application of these principles, we’re not ready for a further political decision.

[Page 442]

The same is true on silo dimensions. We can carry over the Interim Agreement language prohibiting increases more than 15% in any dimension and add that volume increases must be less than 32%. This doesn’t lend itself to discussion with Brezhnev either.

Secretary Schlesinger: Would this include a 32% increase in length?

Secretary Kissinger: No—the Interim Agreement provisions would be retained and in addition a 32% limit on volume. If they went 15% down, this would give them a few percent in width. If they went 15% in diameter, that would be all they could do. They could not go more than 15% deeper. It also avoids the situation where if they narrow the diameter, they could even go further down than 32%.

Secretary Schlesinger: Mr. President, this has eventually no significance militarily, but it is a political problem.

President Ford: Ok.

Secretary Kissinger: The Soviets have also proposed to ban ballistic missiles greater than 600 km on surface ships and on the sea beds; this is already in another agreement. They have also proposed to ban weapons in earth orbit, which is also in another agreement, although I don’t remember which one.

Mr. Colby: The outer space agreement.

Secretary Schlesinger: There is still the question of the FOBS.

Fred C. Ikle: The FOBS is being discussed in Geneva now.

Secretary Kissinger: They want the 2400 to be reached within one year after the agreement begins. You could accept this in principle and shift it to Geneva, with instructions to Alex Johnson to reduce the time by as much as he can get.

This brings us to more controversial issues. On the definition of a heavy ICBM, we could accept their principle that the overall launching weight be no greater than the SS–19 and add to it a limit on throw weight.

Secretary Clements: There is a vulnerability there not covered when you limit them to the 19 throw weight. As of today, that is a certain technology. But they could change that technology and improve their yields.

President Ford: Just like we can.

Secretary Clements: This is a fuzzy area, and I am not suggesting anything, I just wanted you to understand.

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t ask them to limit their yield. This leaves three issues—first, the definition of a heavy missile.

Dr. Ikle: There is also the question of the 18. We should insist on no further increases.

[Page 443]

Secretary Kissinger: That is better left in Geneva. That leaves the two biggest issues—

Secretary Schlesinger: Why should we leave the throw weight of the 18 to Geneva? It lends itself naturally to a general discussion of throw weight by the President. If you get into it with regard to the 19, you could have a paragraph and say that in addition, we have raised at Geneva that there should be a limit on the 18 as well.

President Ford: Let’s get to the tough ones—

Secretary Kissinger: That’s cruise missiles and the Backfire. On cruise missiles, the Soviet position was that cruise missiles on transport planes are banned. Cruise missiles on bombers greater than 600 km range would be counted. Cruise missiles on surface ships and submarines greater than 600 km would be banned. Intercontinental cruise missiles would be banned, while other land-based cruise missiles short of 5500 km range would be permitted.

I just noted from my notes that the Soviets would permit on transport aircraft cruise missiles less than 600 km, but ban them above 600 km. I don’t know what the significance of this is.

President Ford: They are permitted on both bombers and transport aircraft?

Secretary Kissinger: On bombers, above 600 km, they are permitted but counted. On ships, they are permitted to 600 km, but banned above, and on land, they are permitted to 5500 km, but banned above.

I should add that we have massive verification problems with every cruise missile issue. The range could be extended—we have a 50% uncertainty about ranges. At higher range its confidence becomes very uncertain. There is an additional problem in that the cruise missile we are developing is the same for ships and aircraft. If we accept a limit on cruise missiles on ships less than aircraft cruise missiles, they will have to take our word for it—but that is their problem.

There is a sense of consensus that we could accept their proposition on intercontinental cruise missiles—to ban those of intercontinental range.

President Ford: That’s the 5500 km

Secretary Kissinger: Below 5500 km, they would be permitted. Frankly, I am somewhat puzzled about this proposition. If we put land-base cruise missiles of 2000 miles range in Europe, we can cover most of the Soviet territory. But they cannot cover our territory. I don’t understand quite why they made this proposal.

Mr. Duckett: The lack of air defenses in China may have figured in here.

President Ford: They can get China with this kind of weapon?

Secretary Clements: It works to our advantage in Europe.

[Page 444]

President Ford: Is there any disagreement on this?

Secretary Kissinger: There is no disparity that I am aware of.

The air launch cruise missile is needed for penetration purposes out to a range of about 3000 km, although George Brown and Jim indicated they could go somewhat below that. But this would be premature in your first talk with Brezhnev—we could put forward 3,000 km.

President Ford: We would count anything over 3000 km?

Secretary Schlesinger: We could ban them over 3000 km.

Secretary Kissinger: We would be better off if we banned them.

Dr. Ikle: It would be much better for verification reasons.

President Ford: There is agreement on this—not to count but to ban?

Secretary Kissinger: Counting above 3000 km gets you essentially nothing.

Secretary Schlesinger: Except a lot of legal problems in the Standing Consultative Commission.

Secretary Clements: Verification if you count is impossible.

President Ford: I would think as a layman that verification would be nil. Suppose you went to 2500 km—would you want to ban above that range also?

Mr. Duckett: As a general rule, regardless of the number put on range, you should ban above that range.

Secretary Kissinger: I can’t see how we could handle the verification hearings if we counted above the cut off.

The next question concerns submarine launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). We have difficulties with the 600 km Soviet proposal. With their forces, it is optimal for their needs, but it is not enough range for us. They can reach our population along our coast from 350 km, but we need more range for symmetrical coverage of their cities.

President Ford: Their proposal is 600 km?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes—to ban all SLCMs above 600 km.

Director Colby: They see these weapons in part as an anti-ship and anti-carrier force.

Secretary Kissinger: Yesterday in the Verification Panel we reviewed one alternative. If the range were set at 1500 km for SLCMs and 3000 km for ALCMs, everyone thought we could live with it—but this was not staffed out and I don’t know if it survived overnight.

President Ford: The air-launched limit would be 3000 km?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. One advantage is that the Vladivostok Agreement contained no limits at all on SLCMs, so this would be a move. The longer range would give us good coverage of Europe and [Page 445] additional coverage of China, but not much more coverage of the Soviet Union. If we want to go into the Soviet Union, we would have ALCMs and could put our land-based cruise missiles in Europe. This may not be our final position, but it seems our best beginning negotiating position.

President Ford: So we would go from 600 to 1500 km on submarine-launched and stay with 3000 km on air-launched.

Secretary Schlesinger: We have never yet gone to 3000 km on air-launched.

Secretary Kissinger: Up to now we have not given them 3000—

President Ford: But we said that they counted—

Secretary Kissinger: No, until now we have had a preposterous position that they are not covered by the Vladivostok Agreement.

Secretary Schlesinger: Our positions have been bilaterally preposterous.

Deputy Secretary Clements: Mr. President, we should look at the 3000 km proposal for air-launched as an important concession—as a fall—

President Ford: As a what?

Deputy Secretary Clements: As a fall—a limit where before we agreed to no limit at all.

Secretary Kissinger: While it is something of a concession, they would figure it out in a minute.

Secretary Schlesinger: It’s a bigger concession than any they have made to date.

Mr. Duckett: Mr. President, I should point out that on surface ships and submarines, the Soviets have 400 launch tubes in their fleet today. [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Schlesinger: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: The 1500 km range was planned to meet our Navy’s needs.

President Ford: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Schlesinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Director Ikle: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: Therefore, any ban on certain types must include a ban on testing of those types.

President Ford: Testing and deployment—

[Page 446]

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. This means we could not try out ours to longer ranges in the same way.

Director Ikle: We would not test our sea-based ones beyond the permitted range anyway.

Secretary Kissinger: This brings us to the Backfire aircraft. To date, we have excluded the Backfire but included the Bison. The problem is that the dimensions are about the same and the capability is probably superior for the Bison. Bill, do you have the chart? (Colby shows chart comparing Soviet bombers.)

Mr. Duckett: As this shows, the range of the Backfire and the Bison are exactly the same, but the Backfire has a refueling capability, whereas the Bison does not.

Secretary Kissinger: In the Verification Panel we discussed a proposal whereby 75 to 100 Backfires would not be counted in the aggregate if they were kept in naval aviation and if they retire some of their Bears in naval aviation when they deploy them.

President Ford: Retire their Bears and Bison?

Mr. Duckett: They have a slightly different version of their Bear bomber in naval aviation for reconnaissance.

Secretary Kissinger: We then had the added thought that we would agree to keep our FB–111s below 100 to have the agreement written in a symmetrical fashion. This is a negotiating ploy since we have no plans for a similar aircraft as the Backfire.

President Ford: In other words, all our FB–111s would be free and they would get 100 Backfires on the assumption that they replace their Bears with Backfires.

Secretary Kissinger: We had thought they would probably get rid of their Bears anyway because of the agreement.

President Ford: To get down to the 2400 level.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. We assumed they would reduce their older bombers to get down to the level.

Mr. Duckett: Mr. President, it is not my area of expertise, but I might mention that under this approach you might receive some criticism that it is now possible to get the aggregate raised by 100 over the 2400 level.

Director Ikle: You might consider putting Backfire and cruise missiles in a separate agreement. They are both borderline cases.

Secretary Kissinger: We would have to explain what we did on Backfire in any event.

Director Ikle: Putting them separately would simplify the main agreement.

[Page 447]

President Ford: Carl raises the point, if it’s true we look like we’re adding 100 to the aggregate—

Secretary Kissinger: In theory we can make an overwhelming case that these 100 are not strategic bombers. We have a very good case that they are not strategic bombers, but that we were giving them 100 only if the proper collateral evidence was available.

Secretary Schlesinger: And in addition we required a reduction in their existing Bears.

Director Colby: Some of the Backfires are assigned to long-range aviation, so you have to deal with those, also.

Secretary Kissinger: We have not sorted that out. Perhaps they would be counted.

President Ford: The FB–111 are not counted now?

Director Colby: No, they don’t have the range.

Secretary Kissinger: We have them free anyhow. We would throw them in only for negotiating symmetry.

Secretary Schlesinger: We have to be careful how we offset the FB–111 versus the Backfire.

Secretary Kissinger: How should we do it?

Secretary Schlesinger: We should not do it symmetrically since they have different capabilities. If after we have received agreement to not put Backfires outside of naval aviation, we might say that the US would then agree to hold to 72 FB–111s.

Secretary Kissinger: This brings us to the mobile missiles. The Soviets have agreed to ban them, not to deploy them. I am sure the Soviets thought they were meeting our concerns on this, given the negotiating history. There are really only two alternatives—we can accept their position, or insist that they be permitted, but counted.

Secretary Schlesinger: Our preference is that this not be discussed with the Soviets now.

Secretary Kissinger: They would agree not to deploy them, but permit development.

President Ford: Is your feeling concerned with research and development on mobile ICBMs?

Secretary Schlesinger: The US should look carefully into that. We have a limited number of ICBM holes, and given what we’re seeing in the Philippine Sea with regard to improved ASW, as their counterforce capabilities increase, we should explore additional basing modes. If we ban deployment, we increase Congressional problems with regard to R&D funding. Preferably, this could be bypassed in Helsinki, while we here in the US could do a careful study before consenting to a ban on mobiles.

[Page 448]

Secretary Kissinger: We could not deploy a mobile before 1983 in any event. Therefore, the issue is whether a ban harms R&D. This depends in part on what happens when once it becomes known the Soviets have offered a ban which we rejected. The question is which way we can better get R&D funds—with a ban, or having rejected a ban.

Secretary Schlesinger: An initial option might be to ban deployment until 1980, at which time both sides would agree to review the situation. Until we see the Soviet counterforce threat developing, we should keep our options open. If we want the option to pursue development, we should be careful to keep it open. They have completed 25 tests of the SS–X–16, many of which were perhaps mobile launchers. Their development program is essentially complete, so they don’t need a development option in order to deploy a system.

Secretary Kissinger: They specifically propose that development would be permitted—only deployment would be banned.

President Ford: If we went with a ban on deployment plus a ban on R&D, we would not be in good shape, since they are so far down the road.

Secretary Kissinger: Jim’s point is that it would be hard to get money for development.

President Ford: I’m not so pessimistic provided Congress is told the Soviets have done so. How much would it cost and how much would it take to go through a development program for a land-based mobile system?

Secretary Schlesinger: Mr. President, we can throw around some unsatisfactory figures—about $2–$3 billion.

Deputy Secretary Clements: One reason it is so expensive is because we don’t know what system concept we would come down on. We would have to do several different prototypes to determine.

President Ford: In the 50’s, the Air Force had developed some models of mobile ICBMs on trains.

General Brown: We went further than models—we actually put them in the fields.

Secretary Kissinger: On trains?

General Brown: Yes, but as the Secretary says, problems relating to the public became evident.

President Ford: I was talking to Mel Laird about that—the tests were not encouraging because of public opinion.

Secretary Schlesinger: Those were random trains moving throughout the country. Now, we are talking about using public lands in the West.

President Ford: That made some of my colleagues on the Hill wince. It didn’t make me wince, but I didn’t think they would be taking [Page 449] them to Michigan! (Laughter) If you have had trouble with Sanguine,5 you will have similar trouble with the environmentalists on this.

Secretary Schlesinger: We are planning to use desert lands, the salt flats west of Salt Lake City. There are some public lands that are unattractive even to the environmentalists. But we need to study this further.

President Ford: My quick reaction is that we should go for an R&D program. I am not as pessimistic about getting it from Congress. I think we could get it and would be in a better position when we bring in their testing of the SS–16.

Mr. Duckett: It is at least a basis for argument.

Secretary Kissinger: Those are the major issues.

President Ford: Thank you, Henry. Jim, do you have any comments?

Secretary Schlesinger: Mr. President, it is clear Brezhnev is anxious for this agreement. We would be inclined to give only a little ground, showing a considerable degree of firmness, responding to their tactics in kind. Brezhnev reiterated their Geneva position. The package Henry outlined is as forthcoming as they have been.

We would strongly urge that 1500 km be the minimum range on SLCMs, and that we stick with 3000 km on the ALCM. On Backfire, equal aggregates were obtained at Vladivostok and everyone recognized that. We must be careful to not appear that they can now escape from that. If it becomes open-ended, we will lose the advantage of equal aggregates.

The light versus heavy missile question is very important. With improved propellants in the SS–19, they could have 12000 pounds throw weight under their definition. This would leave us in a ludicrous position with regard to the modern large ballistic missile constraint negotiated in SALT I. If we hold at 7,000 pounds, that would be the best definition achievable at this point.

On mobiles, we prefer to wait.

President Ford: Mobile ICBMs?

Secretary Schlesinger: Yes—we should study the options for the US first. If they develop a major counterforce capability which is a threat to our systems, we should not exclude additional basing modes.

President Ford: If we ban mobiles and continue with an R&D program, that will cut out part of the problem.

[Page 450]

Secretary Schlesinger: Yes. It really becomes a concern in the early or mid 80s. We see no possibility of a mobile deployment for 5–7 years.

President Ford: Under any considerations, we need the research and development. It is a matter of how to best get the research and development money.

Secretary Schlesinger: Yes.

President Ford: What are your observations, George?

General Brown: Mr. President, I believe that item is a terribly important issue. As a fallback position, provided it is understood as that, we subscribe to the formula the Secretary put forward. At Vladivostok, you agreed to equality. But to give up on equality, that would be very difficult to explain.

On cruise missiles, we can accept a proposal to ban intercontinental cruise missiles. We can accept 3,000 km on air launch cruise missiles, and would prefer 3,000 km on SLCMs, but came up with 1500 km if we have to go lower on SLCMs.

We do have a problem concerning the commonality of SLCMs and ALCMs. In our program, they are basically the same missile. We put the SLCM in a can which falls off when it is launched. Once it flies out, it is very similiar to the ALCM. This is their verification problem, but there is a chance we are going to be accused we were cheating.

President Ford: They can’t distinguish the one launched from the air from the one launched from sea?

General Brown: They have Aviation Week which tells them—

Secretary Kissinger: There is also our testing—

General Brown: That’s true, but we can trade warhead weight for range.

President Ford: Like they can.

General Brown: If we can fly 1500 km, we can fly further. I just don’t want you to get in a position where you are accused of bad faith.

President Ford: All of this has been in Aviation Week?

Secretary Clements: There’s been pretty much in Aviation Week—the engines are the same, the airframes are the same, the guidance is the same, and so forth.

Secretary Kissinger: I’ve never understood how Aviation Week gets all that—

You should have seen Clements three years ago; he wanted to scrap the whole program

Secretary Clements: That’s not true! (laughter)

Secretary Kissinger: This should go to Geneva where it is their problem to raise the verification problem. After all, Minuteman II and [Page 451] Minuteman III silos are the same, and they haven’t raised that. So we’ll let them raise this.

Secretary Schlesinger: We have a parallel problem. We will not be in a position to say we have any precision in verification in the cruise missile area. We will be relying pretty much on good faith.

Dr. Ikle: Mr. President, for this reason I think you should consider putting the cruise missiles in a separate protocol which could be kept apart from the main agreement.

President Ford: If we don’t include cruise missiles, there will be a hell of a big reaction.

Secretary Kissinger: In either event, they will have to be presented simultaneously. In any event, we can’t present a SALT agreement that lets cruise missiles run free.

President Ford: We would be laughed out of town.

Secretary Clements: Absolutely.

Secretary Kissinger: One thing—George thought he could live with a limit on the number of cruise missiles on each aircraft. Did you say you could live with that, George?

General Brown: I could live with it, [less than 1 line not declassified]

President Ford: How many will we have on each aircraft?

Secretary Clements: The B–52 will have six on either side, or 12 altogether.

President Ford: Both on the B–1 and the B–52?

General Brown: More on the B–1

Secretary Kissinger: You can see why this is a problem for the Soviets since each one has a [less than 1 line not declassified] weapon on it.

Secretary Clements: [less than 1 line not declassified] The commonality of the missiles is the big thing. It’s the same missile on the aircraft as is in the torpedo tubes.

Secretary Kissinger: Would you carry them on bombers in lieu of bombs?

General Brown: I don’t think so.

President Ford: What is the problem if we get no SALT II agreement? What dollars in hardware are we going to have to take to Congress then?

Secretary Schlesinger: Probably two to three billion dollars increase to the budget over a period of years. Until 1977, we are constrained anyway.

President Ford: Until fiscal 77?

Secretary Schlesinger: Calendar 77—until the 5 year interim agreement runs out.

[Page 452]

President Ford: Across the board, or only on launchers?

Secretary Kissinger: We are constrained on the deployment of land-based and submarine-based missiles. We are not limited on bombers or cruise missiles.

Dr. Ikle: We couldn’t deploy more in any event.

Secretary Schlesinger: If there were no agreement, we would have to increase our capability.

President Ford: I’ve asked Henry to get from DOD the figures on the options we would have to face, to get projections of your needs for the next five years in terms of money and hardware—what you would send to Congress.

Secretary Schlesinger: Not by tomorrow morning before you go on the aircraft—

President Ford: No.

Director Colby: I don’t want to sound like I’m against cruise missiles, but I should point out that they have an air defense and we don’t. If they were tempted, they might push very hard in the cruise missile area.

Secretary Schlesinger: That’s the reverse of the fact that we have to have cruise missiles because of the air defense.

Mr. Duckett: In the last ten years, they have spent about the same amount on defenses as they have on offensive forces.

Director Colby: They have 10,000 surface to air missiles deployed.

President Ford: Are those effective vs ALCMs and SLCMs?

Director Colby: No, but it shows their philosophy.

Secretary Clements: Our cruise missile projects drive them up the wall because their defense will not protect them from our cruise missiles, and they know it. Cruise missiles cause them plenty of pain and agony. They give us real leverage.

President Ford: How soon will they be operational?

Secretary Schlesinger: By 1980.

President Ford: I have a technical question—why aren’t their present air defenses effective vs ALCMs and SLCMs?

Director Colby: Because of low altitude penetration.

Secretary Kissinger: What speed do they go?

General Brown: Subsonic—not too fast, but they go very low.

Mr. Duckett: I don’t want to debate their vulnerability, but their radar network in the entire western USSR is now down to [less than 1 line not declassified] I would not be willing to depend on the invulnerability of air breathing vehicles in the 1980s.

Secretary Kissinger: In any event, the cruise missile would force them to spend a lot of money on air defense which otherwise they would spend elsewhere.

[Page 453]

General Brown: There is another point, Mr. President. This is not like a football game, where it is one play at a time. [2 lines not declassified]

Director Colby: They were very shook up by the Hanoi attack—that was a very heavily defended area.

President Ford: With what?

General Brown: The B–52 attack.

Secretary Kissinger: Their entire defense was exhausted at the end.

Dr. Ikle: In the end, several years from now, the Russians will catch up on cruise missile technology. In the end they may build MIRVs even larger. So we should also look at what we get from limits on their cruise missiles. In addition, there is the verification problem.

General Brown: [less than 1 line not declassified] You not only penetrate the defenses, but you destroy the defenses. It’s not like Hanoi. It’s a very different situation.

President Ford: Well, if there are no other comments, thank you all very much.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Meetings File, Box 2. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room.
  2. See Document 98.
  3. The “boards,” or charts, were not attached to Colby’s briefing, which is entitled “The Soviet Union and SALT,” July 25. (Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files, Box 10, NSC Meeting, 7/25/75–SALT)
  4. At the Verification Panel meeting on July 24, Schlesinger offered alternative reactions to the issues mentioned here. According to minutes of the meeting, he believed that the problems of ICBM MIRV verification were essentially solved and the SLBM problems could be worked out through some variant of the class rule. He also argued that a ban on mobile deployment would eliminate the mobile ICBM program. (Ibid., Box 5, Verification Panel Meeting Minutes, 7/24/75–SALT)
  5. Probably a reference to the Sanguine Project, a controversial 1968 project of the U.S. Navy to build a low-frequency radio transmitter facility in Wisconsin to communicate with submarines.