137. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1



This paper reviews alternative approaches to resolving the major outstanding SALT issues in the light of the U.S. proposals of January and February and the Soviet responses. (The proposals put forth by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in January are described in Annex A.)

In February, the U.S. communicated a proposal based on completion of the Vladivostok Agreement plus an interim agreement for the period through January 1979 that would restrict sea-launched and land-launched cruise missile testing and deployment as well as limit Backfire production. The elements of the proposed agreements (also provided in Annex B) are:

1. The Vladivostok Agreement (to last through 1985)

—All provisions relating to Vladivostok agreed to thus far in Geneva plus other agreed Joint Draft Text (JDT) provisions.

—Agreement that any missile whose booster has been tested with MIRVs will be considered to be MIRVed.

—Ceiling on the throw weight and launch weight of heavy and non-heavy ICBMs (since agreed in Geneva).

—Ban on ALCMs with range over 2500 km, restrict ALCMs over 600 km to deployment only on heavy bombers, count heavy bombers equipped with 600–2500 km ALCMs in the 1320 total.

—Reduction in the aggregate to some level below 2400.

2. Interim Agreement (to last through January 1979)

—Limit testing of all sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs), i.e., cruise missiles launched from submarines and surface ships, and land-launched cruise missiles (LLCMs) to a maximum range of 2500 km.

—Ban deployment of SLCMs and LLCMs over 600 km.

—Prohibit acceleration of Backfire production beyond the current and agreed rate.

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—Ban on improvements in Backfire capability.

—Commitment to resolve the Backfire and cruise missile issues as soon as possible.

The Soviet response was negative, claiming this proposal represented a step backwards from our January position, that resolution of the cruise missile issue would not become easier in the future as testing progressed, and that Backfire was an artificial issue.

The Soviets have not introduced any new elements in their response to our latest proposal but reaffirmed the last position they had put forth in January in Moscow. Our general alternatives in this situation are:

—Maintain our most recent position as put forward in February.

—Continue to pursue the concept of a combined Vladivostok/Interim Agreement approach, as proposed in February, but with some modifications.

—Return to the concept of a single comprehensive 1985 agreement and propose a new approach which incorporates major elements from our initial January proposal and emphasizes reductions, including heavy missile reductions.

These alternatives are analyzed in the sections which follow. (An aspect which relates to all of the approaches, the cruise missile definition issue, is discussed in Annex C.)

I. Maintain Our Present (i.e., February) Position

The principal advantage of the Vladivostok/Interim Agreement approach which we proposed in February is that an interim agreement covering Backfire, SLCMs, and LLCMs gains time for more deliberate discussion and debate on these issues. At the same time it places no severe constraints on Backfire or SLCM and LLCM programs and permits consolidation of what has been agreed up to now. If no agreement can be reached on Backfire and cruise missiles by January 1979, the Soviets would be in a position to deploy Backfire without constraints while we would have the balancing option to proceed with unlimited deployment of long-range SLCMs and LLCMs.

The arguments for maintaining our current position relate both to an assessment of the tactical situation and to the merits of the position:

—On the one hand, failure to reassert the position may convince the Soviets that it was merely a negotiating gambit, and that by stonewalling they can obtain further modifications and concessions.

—On the other hand, the Soviets have shown no interest in the concept of deferral of the Backfire and cruise missile issues; their own proposal emphasizes reductions linked to strict cruise missile limits [Page 618] and suggests that a comprehensive settlement along such lines may still be negotiable.

II. Variations on the February Proposal

If it is decided to continue to pursue the concept of a combined Vladivostok/Interim Agreement approach, then consideration could be given to attempting to make the February proposal more attractive to the Soviets. Three possible modifications to the February proposal of potential interest are:

—Include a ban on the development, testing, and deployment of all cruise missiles above 2500 km in the 1985 Vladivostok Agreement (i.e., extend the ban on ALCMs over 2500 km to all cruise missiles).

—Include the above ban on cruise missiles above 2500 km in the Vladivostok Agreement and, in addition, drop the interim agreement concept in its entirety.

—Extend the period of the interim agreement through October 1980 (i.e., allow three years after the new agreement goes into effect for negotiation of limits on SLCMs, LLCMs, and Backfire).

A ban on the testing and deployment of all cruise missiles of range greater than 2500 km would be consistent with theater and tactical roles for land-, submarine-, and surface-ship-launched cruise missiles but would sharply constrain a strategic capability for U.S. SLCMs. The nuclear-armed Tomahawk SLCM could be modified to conform to a 2500 km maximum range limit.

Although including the 2500 km cruise missile ban in the Vladivostok Agreement has the advantage of making the proposal more attractive to the Soviets, it will decrease the prospects for successful negotiation of Backfire limits before January 1979. Thus, in the context of banning cruise missiles over 2500 km in the Vladivostok Agreement, we might drop the interim agreement idea altogether and instead pursue limitations on Backfire in the negotiations of a follow-on agreement or some other forum.

Extending the interim agreement expiration date from January 1979 to October 1980 would have the following impact on cruise missiles and Backfire:

Cruise Missiles. Extending the 2500 km SLCM/LLCM test ban to October 1980 would have minimal impact on the development program for Tomahawk. Only a few maximum range demonstrations in 1978 and 1979 might have to be curtailed. All technical goals could be met. With initial SLCM deployment presently scheduled for January 1980, a ban on deployment of SLCMs and LLCMs above 600 km through October 1980 would, as a minimum, slip actual deployment by nine months. In addition, production and deployment funds might be eliminated by Congress pending resolution of the deployment ban. [Page 619] (This could lead to a deployment delay of several years because production funds are normally allocated two to three years prior to actual deployment.) There is also the possibility that there will be pressures to extend the terms of the interim agreement even if no agreement on SLCM, LLCM, and Backfire limits are achieved by October 1980.

Backfire. The number of Backfire deployed by October 1980, assuming agreement on a fixed three per month production rate (see Annex D), would be about 240 compared to the otherwise projected total of about 280 by that time. It is difficult to say how much the possibility of numerical limitations on Backfire would be enhanced by somewhat lower deployment levels.

III. Modified January Proposal: Emphasis on Reductions

Under this approach, we would retain much of the substance of our January proposal for a comprehensive agreement (Annex A), with the principal exception of: (1) dropping the demand for strict numerical limits on Backfire and (2) including reductions to 2150, part of these reductions (e.g., about 100) to be taken in heavy missiles. The basic provisions of the proposed agreement would be:

—Soviet statement on the number of Backfire they plan to produce by 1985.

—Freeze deployment of SS–18s; reduce 100 (or more) SS–9s.

—Ban ALCMs above 2500 km; ban ALCMs on aircraft other than heavy bombers above 600 km; count heavy bombers with 600–2500 km ALCMs in the 1320 MIRV total.

—Ban SLCMs on submarines above 600 km.

—Ban SLCMs on surface ships above 2500 km.

—Ban land-launched cruise missiles above 2500 km.

—Collateral constraints on Backfire, including upgrading.

—Reductions to 2150 by 1982.

Under this option, there would be no agreed numerical limitations on Backfire; however, the requirement that the Soviets provide a unilateral statement on the total number of Backfire they plan to produce by 1985 could help build confidence that Backfire would not be deployed in such large numbers that it could be viewed as a circumvention of the agreement. (See table below for projected Backfire production.) This option is formulated on the assumption that the 1985 Backfire number provided by the Soviets would be consistent with our intelligence estimate (about 550) or less. If the number were significantly greater than 550, the package would need to be reconsidered in this light.

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Projected Backfire Production
Mid-1976 January 1979 October 1980 December 1982 December 1985
LRA 20 70 120 190 240
SNA 20 70 115 185 210
Other 44 45 38 35 100
Total 84 185 273 410 550

At Vladivostok, it was agreed to carry over from the SALT ONE Interim Agreement the provisions which froze modern heavy ballistic missiles (MLBMs) at their current levels. The U.S. has no MLBMs while the Soviets have 326 (this number includes 18 launchers at the Tyuratum test sites which are believed to be operational). With the recently agreed heavy ICBM definition and heavy ICBM ceiling, the Soviets will be allowed over 2.5 million pounds of ICBM throw weight more than the U.S. With reductions in force size, this asymmetry in allowed force capability becomes increasingly important. In light of this situation, this option would freeze SS–18 deployment to those operational or under conversion as of the date of signature (currently about 122—see Annex E). By adding the requirements to phase out, e.g., 100 SS–9 launchers by 1982, the ICBM force throw weight asymmetry which results from the Soviet heavy missile advantage can be significantly reduced.

In order to achieve the desired heavy missile reduction (i.e., at least about 100), the U.S. might take the approach of initially proposing much larger heavy missile reductions, possibly even proposing that the Soviets eliminate all remaining SS–9s not under conversion. Reductions in heavy missiles in this agreement could also pave the way for preferential reductions in SALT THREE to eliminate all heavy missiles.

Force Table

In the light of the possibility of agreement on reductions to an aggregate of 2150, Tables 1 and 2 of Annex F provide illustrative Soviet and U.S. force structures through 1985 assuming an aggregate of 2150 is achieved by the end of 1982. Table 3 of Annex F describes the current FYDP forces; it should be noted that the U.S. force in October of 1984 was designed under the assumption of a SALT limit of 2400.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 33, USSR, Gromyko File, October 1, 1976. Top Secret; Sensitive. All annexes are attached but not printed.