158. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • SALT and Other Arms Control Issues Addressed in Moscow

The following summarizes the outcome of the SCC meeting of April 7, 1977.


Our public posture will be to make clear that SALT is a long-term process requiring our patient efforts to try to achieve an agreement. We will not underplay the potential difficulties, and we should avoid over-optimistic assessments. We should play down the significance of the May meeting between Gromyko and the Secretary of State. In this connection, it was decided to propose that the Geneva discussion be resumed as soon as practical under Paul Warnke’s chairmanship of the U.S. Delegation to address remaining SALT technical issues (verification data base, etc.) and to provide a possible channel for exchanging views on our proposals. Guidance on the technical issues will be developed by the SCC Working Group.

In our private discussions with the Soviets, we should emphasize our preference for the comprehensive approach.2 We should try to obtain a more specific Soviet critique of our proposals and Soviet counterproposals. These discussions with the Soviets should be guided by PD/NSC–7.3

The SALT Special Coordination Committee and its Working Group will undertake a detailed examination of the phasing of reductions in the comprehensive proposal—the time at which the Soviets can be expected to exceed our proposed 550 limit for MIRVed ICBMs, the kinds of constraints that might apply to Trident, the B–1, and Soviet SLBM and strategic bomber forces. There should be a systematic and [Page 690] comprehensive examination of all possible constraints on Backfire. There should be an analysis of the number of missile flight tests that would be appropriate to our comprehensive proposal, including the question of the definition of what is a test. There should be an examination of the definition of cruise missile range.

The elements of the comprehensive proposal should be examined to determine the sensitivity of changes of individual elements and how they would impact on U.S. and Soviet interests. There should also be an examination of how elements of our comprehensive proposal could be added to the deferral package, ranging from establishing agreed principles for SALT III to undertaking specific commitments to keep aspects of our comprehensive proposal viable, such as a limit on the number of MIRVed ICBMs. In this connection, there should be a careful examination of those cruise missile and Backfire constraints that might be acceptable.

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to SALT.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 3/25/77–5/9/77. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Also sent to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The memorandum was not signed by Brzezinski, but on April 9 Aaron, with Brzezinski’s concurrence, sent a memorandum to Carter explaining that while the SCC discussion did not merit a PD or PRM, it should serve as guidance for further action. Carter approved it and its distribution. (Ibid.)
  2. An unknown hand underlined the second half of this sentence.
  3. Document 156.