146. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1


  • Letter from Ambassador Johnson on the Status of the SALT Negotiations

The Chairman of the U.S. SALT Delegation, Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson, has sent you a letter (Tab 1) describing the current status of the Geneva SALT negotiations.2 He has included a copy of the latest annotated version of the Joint Draft Text (JDT) for the new SALT agreement along with brief papers describing some of the unresolved issues under consideration in Geneva. (This excludes the Backfire, cruise missile, and MIRV verification issues.)

As Ambassador Johnson notes, a significant number of issues beyond those agreed at Vladivostok have been resolved in the post-Vladivostok Geneva negotiations. Of particular significance in this regard is the negotiation of agreed language for: (1) the ceiling on the throw weight and launch weight of light and heavy ICBMs along with definitions for throw weight and launch weight; (2) the limitations on increases in ICBM silo dimensions; (3) bans on intercontinental cruise missiles and ballistic missiles above 600 km on surface ships; (4) permitted grace periods for dismantling of excess launchers; and (5) a commitment to future negotiations to include reductions.

Ambassador Johnson cites nine specific issues under consideration in Geneva on which the sides have not as yet reached agreement. The most significant of these are the ICBM launcher definition, MIRV verification, deliberate concealment (telemetry encryption) and non-transfer/non-circumvention issues. There has been substantial prog-ress on the ICBM launcher definition and MIRV verification issues and agreement on these issues is not far off. The deliberate concealment issue is driven by the question of how to handle telemetry encryption which will probably have to be resolved at a higher level. The other five JDT issues which Ambassador Johnson cites are less contentious and should be readily resolvable once the Backfire and cruise missile issues are resolved.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, Box 21, SALT (34)–(42), [Feb. 1976–Jan. 1977]. Secret. Drafted by Boverie and sent as an attachment to a memorandum to Scowcroft, November 30, with an added handwritten query: “Should we do a reply to Alex thanking him for his work, etc.” Scowcroft wrote “Sure.” (Ibid.)
  2. Johnson’s letter was not attached and has not been found. The session in Geneva ended on November 21.