11. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon1


  • Establishment of Standing Consultative Commission (SCC)

The Standing Consultative Commission was established on 21 December 1972 with the signing in Geneva of a Memorandum of Understanding.2 I believe we should move quickly to appoint the US contingent to this US/USSR commission for the following reasons.

—Quick US compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding would have maximum political impact on the USSR, demonstrating US [Page 39] determination to implement the provisions of the ABM Treaty and Interim Agreement.

—Immediate establishment of the SCC could provide an early recognition of compliance and implementation problems that must be avoided in future SALT agreements.

—There already are issues of procedures for compliance (e.g., the need for “mutually agreed” procedures for dismantling and destruction of ABM R&D launchers in excess of the number permitted in the treaty) which need attention.

—Sensitive questions may arise at any time which need careful technical and policy consideration before initiating discussions with the Soviets, having to do with perceived Soviet actions which may be in violation of the agreements and the extent to which we might reveal our intelligence capabilities by challenging Soviet actions.

—Concurrent operation of the SCC and the SALT delegations would give us more flexibility in the forthcoming sessions of SALT in assigning issues for negotiation, to the SCC or to the SALT Delegation, as our negotiating strategy and tactics dictate.

The immediate actions which need to be taken to establish the SCC are:

—Presidential appointment of the US Commissioner (a State position), and of the Deputy US Commissioner (a Defense position).

—Formation of a staff to support the US Commissioners (State and Defense assignments).

Since future success of SALT negotiations could be linked to what happens in the SCC, the SCC should be established quickly and staff work begun immediately.

I am prepared to recommend candidates for these positions and initiate staff support.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 888, SALT, SALT TWO–I–(Geneva), November 21, 1972–March 1973. Secret.
  2. The text of the MOU is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, January 15, 1973, p. 60–61.