179. Presidential Directive/NSC–201


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • U.S. SALT Position

As a result of the NSC meeting of September 6, 1977,2 the President has made the following decisions regarding the discussions with the Soviet Union, prior to and during Foreign Minister Gromyko’s meetings in the U.S.

1. Aggregate Levels

The U.S. should continue to press for reductions from Vladivostok ceilings from 2400 to 2160 to be achieved by late 1980.

—In this connection the U.S. should propose a solution to the question of bomber variants, by offering initially to count no more than 60 Bison tankers and Bear ASW aircraft in the 2160 aggregate. The U.S. could agree to a level of 2220, including the 60 bomber variants. The President wishes to reconsider this issue after the initial discussions with Gromyko.

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2. MIRV Levels

A basic U.S. objective is to reach agreement on reductions in the MIRV level from 1320 to 1200, or lower, to be achieved by late 1980.

—The U.S. is willing to exempt from its MIRV counting rule 120 silos at Derazhnya and Pervomaisk for a three-year period, after which all 120 would be counted against any MIRV limits or ceilings.

3. ALCMs and MIRV Limits

During the period leading up to the meeting with Gromyko, the Secretary of State and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency will explore with Ambassador Dobrynin and subsequently, with Foreign Minister Gromyko, the following concepts in order to determine the Soviet reaction:

A. As a variation of our present proposal, the U.S. is willing to explore a package that would include reductions in the aggregate level to 2160, in the MIRV level to 1200 and numerical sublimits for MIRVed MLBMs at about 220, for MIRVed ICBMs at about 800, and for ALCM carriers at about 250 (but outside of the MIRV level). These limitations would apply for the treaty period through 1985, unless replaced by further agreements in SALT III.

B. Alternatively, we might consider a package that would include reductions to an aggregate level of 2160, to a MIRV level of 1200, and agreement on the same numerical limit for MIRVed MLBMs, and, separately, for ALCM carriers with the aim of establishing the agreed limit at, say, 220 each (though the ALCMs would not be within the MIRV level). These limits would apply for the treaty period through 1985, unless replaced by further agreements in SALT III.

C. The President has also approved the following concept as the basis for a possible settlement, but does not wish it to be discussed with the Soviets at this time: reductions to 2160 in the aggregate and an overall combined ceiling for MIRVed missiles and ALCM carriers at no more than 1320, with the following sublimits: for MIRVed MLBMs no more than 220; for all MIRVed missiles no more than 1100; and for ALCM carriers no more than 220; these limitations to apply for the treaty period through 1985. In light of the discussions with Foreign Minister Gromyko, the President may wish to consider this package as a U.S. proposal.

4. Cruise Missile Definitions

The U.S. does not wish to settle the issue of differentiating between armed and nuclear armed cruise missiles for the entire treaty period. The U.S. reserves the right in future negotiations to propose different limitations for nuclear and conventionally armed GLCMs and SLCMs. During the three-year Protocol period, however, the U.S. will not dif [Page 757] ferentiate between nuclear and conventionally armed ALCMs as far as any agreed testing or deployment limitations are concerned. This position should be made clear to the Soviet Union.

5. Backfire Bombers

The U.S. should press for written assurances regarding the limits on upgrading, training, and refueling of the Backfire bomber, as well as an assurance regarding the maximum production level for the three-year Protocol period (e.g. a total of 250). Such assurances can be separate from the treaty and Protocol, but must be intended for public use by the U.S.

6. Other Issues

On other issues the U.S. position remains unchanged from positions taken in the Geneva discussions, and the previous negotiations between Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Gromyko.

7. Interim Agreement Extension

The U.S. is willing to issue a parallel statement with the USSR that would have the effect of extending the Interim Agreement of May 26, 1972, by announcing that neither side will take actions inconsistent with, or contrary to that Agreement while active negotiations continue for a new agreement. The U.S. envisages that the period would not exceed four to six months, but no time limit should be set.

8. ABM Treaty Review

The U.S. should reaffirm publicly its intention of continuing the ABM Treaty in force, without seeking major modifications during the ABM Treaty review.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 11, Box 55, Harold Brown–Private File, SALT 1977. Top Secret. Also sent to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence. In an undated memorandum, Brzezinski sent this Presidential Directive for Carter’s approval. Carter approved the PD and wrote: “ok, but the joint limit of MLBM & ALCM/B of 100–300 not indicated. J.” (Ibid.)
  2. For a summary, see Document 178.