189. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Your Meeting Thursday Afternoon on SALT2

I have attached an annotated agenda at Tab A3 for your use.

The principal issue you need to address at this meeting is the pace and strategy of our overall SALT effort at this stage, taking into account the domestic political situation and the concerns of our Allies. There is increasing evidence that a premature SALT agreement would conflict with ratification of the Panama Canal Treaty. Moreover, for SALT to be acceptable domestically and with our Allies will require time to present our case. It also in my judgment will require a display of toughness on your part with the Soviets to overcome the impression that we have given too much away.

Accordingly, I believe you will want to consult tomorrow on the appropriate pace for the negotiation. It is my view that the United States should be firm on all the major points still at issue with the Soviets. In particular, we should stick hard on limitations on the testing of new ICBMs.4 This would not exclude discussion with the Soviets of variations that they may propose, nor probing them to say why they wish to leave open the option of testing new single warhead ICBMs. But this is a crucial aspect of limiting those Soviet forces that threaten us and about which Jackson has been effective in expressing concern, so we need to hold on this point.

I also believe we should stay firm on the other SALT issues—aggregates and principles for SALT Three. The more detailed questions such as bomber variants, telemetry encryption and heavy mobile missiles, should be left for SCC discussion; but I have included notes on them in the agenda at Tab A should they come up.

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A second principal area should be a discussion of our approach to the Congress.5 You should find out what Cy and Paul’s plans are and emphasize that what we want at this stage is not a crash publicity campaign but a basic tutorial with Senators and Congressmen and key staff. We have sound strategic policies and programs and we should lay those out and place SALT in that context.

Finally, you may wish to address our Allies’ concerns on cruise missiles and non-circumvention/non-transfer. I have attached a note on this for you at Tab B.6

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 10/6/77–11/22/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten “C” in the upper right hand corner indicates that Carter saw this memorandum.
  2. The meeting was held on November 17 from 2:40 to 4:48 p.m. with a 5-minute interruption when Carter and Brzezinski left to meet Israeli Prime Minister Begin. (Ibid., Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No other record of the meeting has been found.
  3. Tab A was not attached.
  4. Carter underlined the end of this sentence.
  5. In a November 17 memorandum to Brzezinski, his Special Assistant Rick Inderfurth reported that Senator Gary Hart (D–Colorado) had told Inderfurth that the Carter administration should make better use of its “Hill supporters to respond to SALT attacks and criticisms.” Hart also suggested trying to “split the Republicans on SALT” by identifying a half dozen Senators sympathetic to SALT and courting them. Hart recommended shifting the “focus of the SALT debate away from Jackson’s subcommittee,” and toward the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and outside SALT advisers. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 53, SALT: 11/77)
  6. Tab B was not attached.