149. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Summary Report for your Information and Reaction of the Special Coordination Committee Meeting, Feb. 3


  • SALT


  • The President (for the first half of the meeting)
  • The Vice President
  • A. Denis Clift
  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Leslie Gelb
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • DOD
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Charles W. Duncan
  • Walter Slocombe
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • Lt. Gen. Edward L. Rowny
  • CIA
  • Enno Knoche
  • Howard Stoertz
  • OMB
  • Bert Lance
  • ACDA
  • Leon Sloss
  • Paul Wolfowitz
  • NSC
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • William G. Hyland
  • Dr. Victor Utgoff
  • Dr. Roger Molander
  • Jeanne W. Davis


1) The President asked for an analysis of the previous SALT negotiating history, and for some specific options directly related to the Vladivostok agreement, without profound deviation, including what our negotiating position should be on limits on cruise missiles and Backfire. He indicated that he wished to become thoroughly familiar with the details concerning these matters, including the consequences for the U.S. of various negotiating positions.

2) The President asked for an analysis of an ultimate relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union which would include profound mutual reductions in overall strategic nuclear capability, carefully monitored, which would not be unfavorable to either side. He indicated his desire to go as low as possible while still retaining an adequate deterrent capability. He suggested the possibility of including at a later date France and the PRC in mutual program reductions.

3) The President confirmed his commitment to the military leaders that we would not put forward positions without adequate prior consultation and that he would not permit circumvention of normal discussions.

4) The President indicated that, while he would hate ever to have to make the decision, he had no intention of foregoing the use of nuclear weapons to defend the US or the freedom of our European allies.

5) The President asked Secretary Brown to prepare a brief summary of our ASW capability.

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6) The Vice President stressed the importance of absolute security for these internal U.S. deliberations so as to permit a free exploration and exchange of ideas, some of which may never be considered seriously.

7) The President agreed that we need to let our European allies know what we are doing but that we must not allow their nervousness to drive our negotiations.

8) The President asked for further information on any agreements we have with the British and Germans on prior notification.

9) Dr. Brzezinski suggested proceeding as follows on four major issues:

—analyze a range of options for a SALT TWO agreement based on the Vladivostok formula;

—analyze the possibility of a SALT TWO agreement based on significant reductions;

—provide a recommendation to the President as to whether we should stick to Vladivostok for the present or go to a reductions proposal immediately;

—look at other aspects which might also be considered, such as the Test Ban, a Civil Defense Ban (as an extension of the ABM agreement), or exchange of sensitive information.

10) It was agreed to inform the President that the preliminary feeling of the SCC was that it was questionable whether it was negotiable or desirable to omit cruise missiles and Backfire from a SALT TWO agreement. However, some participants felt that for tactical negotiating reasons this option should not be publicly excluded.

11) It was agreed that the Working Group should prepare the following packages (either or both of which might be explored in Moscow by Secretary Vance in March) for another meeting of the SCC to take place after February 22:

—some packages based on the Vladivostok agreement, some of which would be related to the January 1976 proposal and some of which would depart from that proposal;

—a preliminary package involving significant reductions from the Vladivostok levels.

These packages should contain assessments of related political, military and verification issues.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 113, SALT: 1–2/1977. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. At the top of the page is Carter’s handwritten note that reads: “OK, J.C.”
  2. No minutes of SCC meetings were found unless otherwise indicated. The minutes of this meeting are ibid., Institutional Files, Box 84, SCC 002, 2/3/77, SALT. Typically, Gary Sick prepared summaries of the meetings for Brzezinski’s review, who then gave them to President Carter within hours of the meeting. Carter often made handwritten comments in the margins, and the annotated version was then used as the first item of business at the following SCC meeting. (Sick, All Fall Down, p. 247)