19. Memorandum From William Hyland of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Soviet SALT Position

Attached is the omnibus proposal that the Soviets tabled on April 6.2 It incorporates their previous speeches in a formal “Understanding”, which they say should be the basis for an agreement at the summit along the lines of May 20—i.e., agreed high level instructions to the delegations.

It seems to divide into three parts:

1) Provisions relating to the main limitations, (ICBMs, SLBMs, heavy bombers), numerical limits as well as qualitative (MIRVs not mentioned as such), FBS, and restraints on modernization and replacements and prohibitions on new types of strategic weapons.

2) The second part seems to be a possible interim agreement, since it was introduced under the idea of steps that could be taken more or [Page 71] less immediately, since all of the provisions are bans (cruise missiles etc.).

3) The last substantive provision is non-transfer. It is curiously worded: “not to assume any international obligations which would conflict with its [the understanding’s] main provisions” and to assume “obligations not to take actions which could result in the provisions of the understanding being weakened”. Presumably, this is directed against the Poseidon for the UK since a number on the Soviet delegation have mentioned it, but it is not a strong provision.

On balance, it is a maximum statement, but nevertheless interesting in that the Soviets felt compelled to get it on the table and promote it as a summit outcome. It provides the framework for a counterproposal.


Soviet Proposal3


The understanding on more complete measures limiting strategic offensive arms will include the following basic provisions:

(a) establishment of levels for strategic offensive arms;

(b) establishment of quantitative and qualitative limitations on land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and on submarines, on the basis of existing agreements;

(c) establishment of agreed limitations with respect to strategic aircraft and their armaments for the purpose of precluding a strategic arms race in that field and the upsetting of strategic stability, bearing in mind that the limitation of strategic aircraft and their armaments is of great importance from the standpoint of maintaining strategic stability, as is the limitation of ICBMs and SLBMs.

(d) resolution of the question of withdrawal of strategic offensive nuclear systems and liquidation of corresponding bases on the territory of third countries in accordance with the principle of equal security and inadmissibility of unilateral advantage;

(e) resolution of the question of qualitative limitations on strategic offensive arms, which would be consistent with the principle of equal security and inadmissibility of unilateral advantage;

(f) subject to the agreed limitations, modernization and replacement, as well as research, development and testing of strategic offen [Page 72] sive arms, shall be permitted. The number of ICBM and SLBM launchers and other strategic offensive arms for use in testing and training would be limited to agreed levels.

To ensure a more effective curbing of the strategic arms race, the sides will not carry out new major strategic defensive arms programs, will ban development and deployment of new types of strategic offensive arms which could increase the risk of outbreak of nuclear war, and will also assume the obligation to exercise restraint in fields not limited by the understanding.

Guided by the urgent interests of curbing the race in strategic offensive arms, the sides will ban the development, testing and deployment of certain types of strategic offensive weapons, such as:

(a) new types of strategic aircraft;

(b) long range air-to-surface missiles;

(c) intercontinental cruise missiles and sea-based cruise missiles, specially designed to strike land targets;

(d) strategic ballistic missiles on waterborne vehicles other than submarines;

(e) strategic ballistic missiles on airborne platforms;

(f) any fixed or mobile devices for launching ballistic missiles, which could be emplaced on the seabed or ocean floor or in the subsoil thereof, including the territorial sea and internal waters.

For the purpose of enhancing the viability and effectiveness of the understanding, the sides will agree not to assume any international obligations which would conflict with its provisions, and will assume the obligation not to take actions which could result in the provisions of the understanding being weakened or circumvented through a third state or third states.

For the purpose of providing assurances of compliance with the provisions of the understanding, each side shall use national technical means of verification at its disposal. Each side will undertake not to interfere with the national technical means of verification of the other side and not to use deliberate concealment measures which impede verification by national technical means. This obligation shall not require changes in current construction, assembly, conversion, or overhaul practices.

To promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of the understanding, the sides will use the standing consultative commission established by the Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments of the USSR and the USA on December 21, 1972 in accordance with Article XIII of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems.

Agreed measures with respect to the limitation of strategic offensive arms will be of unlimited duration, at the same time providing that either side may withdraw from the understanding if extraordinary [Page 73] events related to the subject matter of the understanding jeopardize the supreme interests of the country in question.

In working out the understanding limiting strategic offensive arms, other proposals in the spirit of the Soviet-American agreements already concluded may also be considered, having as a point of departure the agreed policy of both states on curbing the race in strategic offensive arms, their limitation and subsequent reduction on the basis of the principle of equal security and inadmissibility of unilateral advantage.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 889, SALT, SALT TWO–I–(Geneva), April 1973. Confidential. All brackets are in the original. The memorandum was not initialed by Hyland. Kissinger sent an undated memorandum to the President summarizing the issues and asking for guidance. The “central and most difficult issue,” Kissinger told Nixon, was whether to limit MIRV in some way, as the Soviets proposed, a decision which could “have a decisive impact on the kind of further SALT agreement we can expect to achieve.” According to an April 4 note on the undated memorandum, the President saw it. (Ibid.)
  2. A report on the April 6 meeting and Johnson’s and Semenov’s statements are in telegrams 144, 145, and 146 from USDEL SALT II Geneva, April 6. (All ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  3. No classification marking. The full text of the Soviet Union’s proposed “Basic Principles of an Understanding on More Complete Measures Limiting Strategic Offensive Arms” is in telegram 147 from USDEL SALT II Geneva, April 6. (Ibid.)