163. Memorandum of a Meeting1


  • U.S. Position on SALT, As Derived from the Meeting of the President, the Vice President, The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, ACDA Director, and NSC Assistant

The President has directed that:

1. SALT II is to be a two-year agreement from October 1977 through October 1979. SALT II is to include a commitment toward substantial reductions and an ICBM improvement freeze in SALT III. We will seek a comprehensive SALT III agreement but individual elements shall be implemented whenever possible, even within the lifespan of SALT II. Accordingly, the parties are to undertake immediately after the conclusion of SALT II negotiations toward completion of a comprehensive agreement on control of strategic nuclear arms, including (a) substantial additional reductions in the aggregate number of strategic delivery vehicles; (b) reductions in the aggregate number of launchers of MIRV missiles and in subcategories of launchers of missiles; (c) restrictions on the development of new or modification of existing ICBMs; (d) limits on missile test firing, and (e) other steps to insure strategic stability and equal security.2

2. The SALT II agreement is to include a reduction from the total strategic weapons aggregate of 2400 to 2200, and a reduction in the level of MIRVed missiles from 1320 to 1200, by an agreed date.

3. During the period of the SALT II agreement, the U.S. will sublimit the number of heavy bombers equipped with ALCMs with ranges [Page 700] up to 2500 km to a total of 250; during the same period, the Soviet Union will also limit the production and deployment of Backfires to the total of 250. ALCMs over 600 km are to be deployed on heavy bombers only. The U.S. is not prepared to count each such heavy bomber as the equivalent of a MIRVed missile launcher, to be counted against the MIRV ceiling.

4. During the period of the SALT II agreement, ground-based cruise missiles, sea-based cruise missiles, and ALCMs other than for heavy bombers are not to be tested at or deployed with ranges over 600 km. Any test over 600 km shall be air launched.

5. The Soviet Union will hold the deployment of MIRVed MLBMs, as defined through volume limits in the interim agreement, at 190. Moreover, the Soviet Union and the U.S. will not test nor deploy new types of MIRVed ICBMs during the period of the SALT II agreement.

6. During the period of the SALT II agreement, both sides agree not to deploy mobile ICBMs, and the Soviet side is to take special steps to facilitate arrangements enabling the U.S. side to verify that the SS–20 facilities are not being used for SS–16 deployment.

7. The U.S. will seek to include in the SALT II agreement, or in a parallel agreement, mutual notification procedures for missile test firings. A satisfactory SALT II agreement must also include a resolution of the issues of (a) data base (exchanging numbers of various categories of limited systems expressed in broad terms; e.g., so many MIRV launchers, heavy bombers, etc.); (b) adequate measures to verify the number and type of MIRVed missile launchers; (c) prohibitions against deliberate concealment practices, including a ban on encryption of telemetry.

8. The Soviets will extend a high level assurance that in no instance will the Backfire bomber be deployed or used as a strategic system. In addition, we will press for a series of constraints to reinforce this basic assurance.

We will propose that the Backfire:

(1) will not participate in training activities associated with intercontinental strategic missions of Soviet heavy bombers;

(2) will not be tested, based or otherwise associated with tankers employed with heavy bombers or with tankers of comparable capability;

(3) will not be used at or flown to bases lying north of 63° north latitude;

(4) will not be modified to increase its range/payload capability;

(5) will not be equipped with an air-launched cruise missile with a range over 600 km.

[Page 701]
Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 3/25/77–5/9/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. The President met on April 23 with his advisers from 9:30 to 11:20 a.m. in the White House Cabinet Room. (Ibid., Presidential Materials, President’s DailyDiary) In an April 25 memorandum to Carter, Brzezinski sent these “decision minutes” of the meeting for the President’s approval as “guidance to Vance and Warnke only for present exploratory talks.” Carter approved and wrote “correct” next to the language on exploratory talks. Brzezinski also attached an April 25 memorandum from Harold Brown to the President expressing concerns about the strategy. Brzezinski agreed with several of Brown’s points, especially that the two-year limit might become permanent and that the U.S. negotiating technique might result in too much speculation among the Soviet leadership about U.S. concessions and too little about Soviet concessions. (Ibid., National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, Chronology: 3/25/77–5/9/77) Brown’s memorandum is ibid.
  2. Brzezinski sent these “decision minutes” to Vance, Harold Brown, and Warnke under a covering memorandum of April 26 with the caveat that they “represent guidance from him [the President] for present exploratory stage only, and that the contents are not to be presented to the Soviet side as a formal negotiating proposal. Any actual proposal will depend on Soviet reaction and on formal staffing within the U.S. Government.” (Ibid.)