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


  • Follow-Up to Dobrynin

1. Dobrynin certainly went away feeling that we accept their view that Option 1 is dead, at least for now. I think that we should have kept that matter open longer and pressed them for more specific criticisms, thereby engaging them in a fuller discussion of Option 1.

2. In any case, with respect to Option 2, I take it we will begin fuller explorations, pointing perhaps to these adjustments:

a. Accept limit of 2,500 km on ALCMs (but not count the platforms as MIRVs);

b. Defer to SALT 3 further discussion of cruise missiles;2

c. Either insist on constraints in SALT 2 on the Backfire or make it plain that the Backfire, too, is deferred to SALT 3—though in the latter case the question arises what do we receive in return for the ALCM limitation?3

d. Seek to obtain some reduction in the Vladivostok aggregates for SALT 2 (e.g., to 2,300 total and 1,250 MIRV);4

e. Obtain explicit agreement in SALT 2 that SALT 3 will aim at lower aggregates (like our Option 1), and that these could become effective within the life span of SALT 2;5

f. I still feel that we should aim for some elements of the freeze even within SALT 2; otherwise the situation will become more awkward for all of us, especially with the new generation of Soviet missiles coming into play.6

Subject to your approval, at the lunch with Dobrynin I propose to press him for more explicit Soviet criticisms of our comprehensive [Page 693] package; and to feel him out on the rest of the above and then report back to you and to Cy.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 3/25/77–5/9/77. Top Secret.
  2. Carter wrote “OK” in the margin next to points a and b.
  3. Carter underlined “insist on constraints in SALT 2 on the Backfire” and wrote “characteristics, not numbers—we need USSR intentions on quantity & reserve this as SALT 3 item” in the margin next to this point.
  4. Carter wrote “Prefer 2200–1200—They’ve mentioned 10%” at the end of this point.
  5. Carter wrote “crucial” in the margin next to this point.
  6. Carter wrote “on new missiles—ok—not on their buildup to 550 ICBM MIRVs” in the margin next to this point.
  7. Carter wrote his initials, but not to indicate approval or disapproval. He wrote at the end of the memorandum: “My strong commitment is to comprehensive reductions. I consider ratifying Vladivostok agreements only marking time. Include limit on tests, CBT, nonattack of satellites, etc. J.” On April 13, Brzezinski met with Dobrynin from 12:30 to 2:20 p.m. He later told Carter that while the conversation was “somewhat repetitive” of the previous Soviet position, “we are still in a good position to insist” that SALT should have symbolic cuts in the total aggregate, that SALT II involve “an explicit acceptance of lower aggregates as targets for SALT 3,” that in negotiating SALT a freeze of ICBMs still should be discussed, and that the door be opened in SALT to “some discussion of self-imposed limits during the negotiating phase between SALT 2 and SALT 3.” Dobrynin insisted, according to Brzezinski, that successful SALT negotiations required a political decision at the CarterBrezhnev level. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 3/25/77–5/9/77)