180. Memorandum From President Carter to Secretary of State Vance and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke)1


  • Instructions for SALT Discussions with the Soviets

In your preliminary discussion with Ambassador Dobrynin, and in the initial meetings with Foreign Minister Gromyko, you should emphasize the importance of three continuing U.S. concerns: aggregate reductions, limits on the level of heavy ICBM MIRV deployments, and limits on the overall MIRV level. You will wish to make it clear that reductions in both the aggregate and MIRV level from the Vladivostok ceiling are prime U.S. objectives. The period for such reductions can be negotiated, if the principle is agreed.

You should also emphasize that with our decision to forego deployment of the B–1, any SALT agreement must take into account the fact that Soviet air defenses are not constrained by permitting the deployment of an appropriate number of bombers armed with long-range cruise missiles. You may acknowledge Soviet concerns about U.S. cruise missile deployment and indicate our willingness to find a satisfactory formula that takes account of the concerns of both sides.

Within this framework, the following concepts should be explored with Dobrynin, as soon as possible, in order for him to report to Moscow, and to determine a preliminary Soviet reaction prior to Gromyko’s arrival if possible:

—As a more flexible variation of our proposal (i.e., within the context of an aggregate level of 2160 and MIRV levels of 1200) the U.S. is willing to discuss raising the limit for MIRVed MLBM’s to no more than 220 so long as an overall limit of 800 is placed on all MIRVed ICBM’s. We would maintain our position of a separate limit of 250 on ALCM-carrying bombers. However, as a further concession, we would be prepared to include the limit of 250 in the treaty so long as the other limits on MIRVed ballistic missiles are acceptable to the Soviet Union and also included in the treaty.

Alternatively, after Gromyko’s arrival and depending on any intervening Soviet reaction, we will be prepared to modify the above approach by dropping the sublimit of 800 under ICBM/MIRV and setting [Page 759] the limit on MLBMs and the limit on ALCM-carrying bombers at the same level but with ALCMs not counted within the MIRV total). For illustrative purposes you may suggest that the level could be set at about 220 each; these limits would apply for the entire period of the treaty through 1985, but would be subject to further negotiations for a SALT III agreement.

As discussed in the NSC meeting,2 I am considering another solution that I wish to reserve for possible discussions when I meet with Gromyko and if the circumstances of your talks warrant putting forward a proposal. If, however, the concepts that you will be discussing seem to indicate a serious interest by the Soviet side, I will be prepared to continue that line of negotiation with Foreign Minister Gromyko. If those preliminary talks do not indicate a serious Soviet interest in either concept, I will ask for your recommendations on whether to proceed with the third alternative as discussed at the NSC meeting, and set forth in my Directive NSC–20 of September 9, 1977.3

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 55, SALT: Chronology: 8/9–31/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates it was sent on September 9.
  2. For a summary of the meeting, see Document 178.
  3. Document 179.