173. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • SALT


  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Leslie Gelb
  • Defense
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Charles W. Duncan
  • Walter Slocombe
  • JCS
  • General George S. Brown
  • Lt Col William Y. Smith
  • CIA
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner
  • Robert Bowie
  • Ray McCrory
  • ACDA
  • Paul Warnke
  • Spurgeon Keeny
  • NSC
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • William Hyland
  • Roger Molander


Dr. Brzezinski opened the meeting by outlining the agenda of topics to be covered. These included:

—Definitions of new types of ICBMs.

—Ban on deployment of mobile ICBMs.

—Reductions in the aggregate and MIRV level.

—Principles for SALT THREE.

—Cruise missile definitions.

—Verification and counting rules.

—Deliberate concealment (telemetry encryption, etc.).

Secretary Vance indicated that the meeting should probably also take up the issue of extension of the Interim Agreement and how this might be handled with the Soviets and the Congress.

Secretary Vance then outlined the status of the discussions that had been going on with Dobrynin with respect to those items to be sent to Geneva for consideration by the Delegations. The Soviets wanted to [Page 736] take up the cruise missile issue in Geneva but we argued that this would be inappropriate and they eventually agreed. They have agreed to take up the issue of banning land-mobile ICBM deployment; however, they also want to have a ban on land-mobile ICBM testing. We indicated that we were only prepared to agree to a ban on land-mobile deployment as we had stated in the May meetings in Geneva. It was also agreed that the Delegations would take up the issue of reductions in the aggregate, pre-notification of missile test flights, and the issue of the principles for SALT THREE. The Soviets have not as yet agreed to take up the issue of reductions in the MIRV level; however, we will propose this in Geneva. They also have not as yet agreed to take up the issue of the ban on testing new types of ICBMs, however, they have agreed to take this under consideration and we will table a proposal for such a limitation in Geneva.

Paul Warnke then described his discussion in Moscow with Korniyenko and Komplektov. He indicated that the discussions were relatively unproductive and that Komplektov was “at his sneering worst.” The discussion was principally a rehash of arguments that both sides had made before on the various issues. The only new insight on Soviet thinking was the indication by Korniyenko and Komplektov that the thing that the Soviets found most objectionable in our March comprehensive proposal was the retreat to a limitation of 2500 km on all cruise missiles which they saw as a major step backward from the status of the negotiations with the US prior to that time. On the current negotiations, Warnke indicated that he took the line that they should accept limits on MLBMs even though these were not agreed at Vladivostok since we were being asked to and had agreed to accept limitations on GLCMs and SLCMs which clearly were not discussed at Vladivostok. On Backfire, Korniyenko and Komplektov appeared to take the position that we should be satisfied with assurances by Brezhnev that the Backfire would not be used as an intercontinental bomber—which would be a significant retreat from the position that had been taken in the May meetings with Gromyko.

Dr. Brzezinski then raised the issue of the overall Soviet attitude to SALT and what we can conclude from the public pronouncements and the various exchanges, both here and in Geneva. Secretary Vance indicated that he felt that we should proceed with a business as usual attitude trying to resolve those issues in Geneva which we could, while considering our position on the cruise missile and heavy missile issues. Paul Warnke indicated agreement and pointed out that the Soviets had been reasonable in the formal negotiations in Geneva, he felt we had been much less forthcoming in Geneva, a situation which he thought should be rectified.

Secretary Vance pointed out that there was no question that SALT was still the centerpiece of our relationship with the Soviets. They ap [Page 737] parently think that they can put pressure on us through our European Allies and through the American public in order to push us to make concessions on SALT in the coming months. From that standpoint he felt that it was in our interest to make known that we were continuing to make progress in SALT and that various issues were being turned over to the Delegations in Geneva after having been resolved at the higher levels. He indicated that as far as the problem with the Interim Agreement, he thought it would be preferable not to seek an extension now either with the Congress or with the Soviets. However, he thought we might raise it with the Congress before he meets Gromyko in Europe around September 8th.

Dr. Brzezinski raised the issue of whether in fact it might be better to raise the Interim Agreement with the Soviets now since the Soviets might otherwise build pressure to do something in September which could be defused somewhat if there were agreement on the extension of the Interim Agreement. Secretary Vance indicated that he thought that it would be undesirable to have a deliberation in Congress at this time on the Interim Agreement and SALT in general. Secretary Brown pointed out that since the Congress would likely be gone the entire month of August, we would be restricted to discussing the issue with the leadership anyway. Secretary Vance pointed out that he had stated publicly that we were prepared to consider extension of the Interim Agreement or to simply let it lapse but that the most important thing was that we got a good SALT TWO agreement. David Aaron pointed out the undesirability of having the Soviets reject extension of the Interim Agreement at this time. After further discussion it was agreed that we would take no action at this time on the issue of extending the Interim Agreement.

The meeting then turned to a discussion of the individual issues.

Paul Warnke outlined a possible approach for resolving the ALCM and MLBM issues. The approach would be to have an aggregate ceiling of 250 on the number of heavy bombers equipped with long-range ALCMs and the number of MIRVed heavy missiles at a level of 250. This limit would be included in the 1985 Agreement rather than in the Protocol. He argued that this would protect a sound ALCM option while at the same time meeting the Soviet concern about having ALCMs limited in the 1985 Agreement. He indicated that we might also agree to count any new heavy bomber equipped with long-range ALCMs, e.g. a wide-bodied aircraft such as a 747, in the 1320 MIRV limit. Secretary Brown questioned whether a limit of 250 on MIRVed MLBMs would be at all meaningful to which Warnke replied that it would be just as meaningful as a limit of 190. Secretary Brown also raised the possibility of the Soviets in the future arguing for reductions in this ceiling as a means of reducing our ALCM force. Warnke argued [Page 738] that we would simply reject such a proposal. Secretary Brown expressed skepticism as to how easy that might be to do.

Dr. Brzezinski raised the issue of whether we might take the approach of a limit of 650 MIRVed ICBMs rather than focusing on a limit on MIRVed heavy missiles. There was a consensus that this would have about the same effect as the heavy missile MIRV limit, however, it was not clear whether the Soviets would find it more or less palatable. In this context Bill Hyland raised the issue of the 120 disputed launchers at Derazhnya and Pervomaysk which are SS–19 type launchers but which currently contain SS–11’s. There was general agreement that we should take this issue into consideration in our deliberations on the appropriate MIRV level etc.

Harold Brown then raised the possibility of having a limit on heavy bombers (independent of whether they had cruise missiles) and heavy missiles (independent of whether they were MIRVed). He indicated that possibility of having a limit of 250 on such an aggregate under which the Soviets would have to throw away heavy missiles or heavy bombers. There was a general feeling that we would probably have to make such a limit higher than 250 in order to make it palatable to the Soviets. In the context, Dr. Brzezinski suggested that we might simply have a limit of 308 so that they could keep all of their heavy missiles if they got rid of their 140 heavy bombers. It was finally decided that the Working Group should do an options paper on the ALCM and MLBM issues.

Paul Warnke interjected the thought that we should not lose sight in these deliberations of the content of the SALT TWO agreement which is currently taking shape. He argued that this agreement really was useful to us in getting a handle on Soviet systems without getting into the FBS issue.

The group then discussed the issue of the definition of new types of ICBMs in the context of the proposed ban on testing such ICBMs for the period of the Protocol. It was decided to propose a definition to the Soviets which was highly restrictive—new types of ICBMs would be defined as any ICBM which has a new booster, variations in its payload (e.g., increased numbers of RVs), changes in guidance systems, etc.

With respect to the ban on deployment of mobile ICBMs for the period of the Protocol, it was agreed to go ahead with the tabling of language on this issue. Secretary Brown raised the question of how we were going to deal with the SS–16. It was decided to continue to propose a ban on the development testing, deployment and production of the SS–16 but to avoid coupling this to the mobile ICBM issue.

On the reductions issue it was decided to proceed to propose those limits which we had initially proposed in Geneva in May, i.e., 2160 on the aggregate and 1200 on the MIRV level.

[Page 739]

The discussion then turned to the issue of the principles for SALT THREE. This discussion focused on whether we wanted to broaden the list of principles beyond those which had been presented to Gromyko in May. David Aaron argued that we might want to try and deal with such issues as bomber pre-launch survivability in SALT THREE, e.g., by a ban on testing SLBMs on depressed trajectories. The issue of SSBN standoff to enhance bomber survivability was also discussed. The issue was also raised of whether the principles should be very general, e.g., simply refer to reduction in SALT THREE, or be quite specific, e.g., refer to reductions to a specific level or not to exceed a specific level. The Working Group was tasked with doing further analysis on these issues in anticipation of further discussion at a later SCC meeting.

It was decided not to make any proposal to the Soviets on the cruise missile definition issue (i.e., armed versus nuclear-armed) or the issue of the definition of cruise missile range pending further progress on the overall cruise missile issue.

On the issue of deliberate concealment, i.e., telemetry encryption, it was decided to push for a ban on all forms of telemetry denial, i.e., encryption, encapsulation, etc. However, Admiral Turner reserved judgment on whether we should put this proposal to the Soviets at this time.

On the issue of the 120 ambiguous SS–19-type launchers at Derazhnya and Pervomaysk, it was decided to continue to hold back on making any concessions on these launchers.

Secretary Brown then raised the issue of the concealment practices (camouflage netting) at Tyuratam and how this was going to be raised with the Soviets. Dr. Brzezinski noted that in spite of the disagreement on whether this concealment was a SALT ONE issue, there appeared to be agreement on what to do, i.e., to raise the issue in both the SALT ONE and SALT TWO contexts.

  1. Source: Department of State, RG 59, Files of Secretary of State Vance, 1977–1980, Lot File 84D241, Vance NODIS Memcons, 1977. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski sent this Summary of Conclusions to Vance under cover of a memorandum dated July 11. (Ibid.)