174. Memorandum From President Carter to Vice President Mondale, Secretary of State Vance, and Secretary of Defense Brown1

Based on the meeting of the Special Coordination Committee on August 18,2 the President has approved the following for guidance concerning the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.3

General Approach to SALT TWO. Between now and the meeting between Secretary Vance and Foreign Secretary Gromyko, we should attempt through Ambassador Dobrynin to convey our basic concerns on the outstanding SALT issues: the question of limits on ALCM carrying bombers and on the Soviet ballistic missiles equipped with MIRVs, in particular the modern large ballistic missiles.

Extension of the Interim Agreement (IA). We should propose to the Soviets that each side issue parallel, unilateral statements indicating that they will not take any action inconsistent with the IA as long as the negotiations toward a follow-on SALT TWO agreement are underway and as long as the other side also adheres to the IA. We should initiate consultations with the Congress on this matter as soon as it returns.

Derazhnya and Pervomaysk. We should offer to exempt from the MIRV total for the three-year period of the Protocol those 120 SS–19 type launchers at Derazhnya and Pervomaysk which currently contain SS–11s if the Soviets agree to the following conditions: (1) the disposition of these launchers will be subject to negotiation in SALT THREE; (2) these launchers are not converted to SS–19 launchers for three years; (3) the Soviets accept our launcher-type MIRV counting rule for all other launchers; and (4) the Soviets agree to our proposal for a MIRV level of 1200 starting in October 1979. This proposition should be presented to Gromyko in Vienna but foreshadowed to Dobrynin beforehand.

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Bomber Variants. We should offer to exempt all of the Soviet heavy bomber variants (i.e., ASW, reconnaissance, and tanker versions of the Bear and Bison) from the aggregate if the Soviets accept the following conditions: (1) agree to a ban on conversion of variants of heavy bombers and vice versa, and (2) our proposed reduction level of 2160. If they are unwilling to agree to the 2160 level, we can also accept 2220, but only if the 60 ASW and tanker variants are counted.

New Types of ICBMs. We should continue to press for a ban on tests of new types of ICBMs in the Protocol rather than relaxing this to new types of MIRVed ICBMs as the Soviets have proposed.

Cruise Missile Range Definition. We should propose that the range of a cruise missile be defined as its “maximum system operational range.”

Cruise Missile Definition. The United States should take the position that cruise missile definition includes only nuclear-armed cruise missiles. The United States may eventually accept a definition of cruise missiles that includes all armed cruise missiles, but this should only be done in return for appropriate Soviet accommodation on the issue of verification.

Prenotification of Missile Flight Tests. We should initially propose that prenotification be given only for ICBM tests and not SLBM tests and space launches.

Backfire. We should push the Soviets to provide us with a set of draft assurances on the Backfire issue.

ABM Treaty Review. The President will decide upon the scope, substantive content and specific timing of the Special SCC meeting on the ABM Treaty review after assessing the outcome of the meeting between the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Gromyko in Vienna in September.

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 8/9–31/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. Also sent to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  2. The Summary of Conclusions of this meeting is ibid.
  3. On August 19, Brzezinski sent Carter a memorandum asking for approval of this guidance and noting that there was no SCC consensus on whether the definition of cruise missiles “should apply to all ‘armed’ missiles or only ‘nuclear-armed’ missiles.” Defense supported “nuclear-armed” and State and ACDA favored “armed.” Carter approved defining cruise missiles as “nuclear-armed,” but with the possibility of changing in return for Soviet accommodation on verification. (Ibid.)