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


  • Your Meeting with Gromyko: SALT Material

You have what you need on political subjects for the meeting. This memo covers SALT.

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As for the conduct of the meeting, Cy and I suggest that you cover SALT first and after that go at Gromyko on the political subjects. It would be tactically best to get Gromyko to make a substantive presentation first to see what he has to offer. Thus, we propose that you open the meeting by doing the amenities as host; note that Cy had made an initial SALT presentation including some new ideas during his April visit to Moscow; and then invite Gromyko to speak first.

The main SALT issues are new types and Backfire and points you might draw on are at Tab A.2

Gromyko apparently hinted to Cy that he may have something new to say on Backfire. We suggest that you not get into a negotiation on whatever new proposals he has to offer but accept them and say we will consider them further.

Gromyko may also raise the issue of a limit (20) on the number of ALCMs per heavy bomber and the schedule for dismantling to 2250; the SALT Three principles may also come up (though this is unlikely). Contingency points on these issues are at Tab B.

At some point in the discussion, Cy has a prepared statement to make on the mobile ICBM issue which the SCC has approved. It was drafted by Harold and will emphasize our interest in a mobile system (of a character yet to be specified) in the post-Protocol period as a response to the improvements in Soviet hard target kill capability.3

The SALT issues are discussed briefly below.

New Types

In Moscow, Cy offered the Soviets a choice of: (1) a ban on all new types of ICBMs for the period of the Protocol, or (2) a ban for the period of the Treaty with one exemption, MIRVed or unMIRVed, for each side.4 You have decided that we should give strong emphasis to the second of these alternatives as our preferred outcome.

The deciding factor on this issue will probably be the impact of the new types definition on the new missiles which are projected to replace the SS–17, SS–18, and SS–19. If the designs for these new missiles are within the five percent change in current missile parameters permitted under the new types definition (a real possibility), the Soviets might very well be prepared to accept our proposal for one exemption for the period of the Treaty.

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On SLBMs, we have told the Soviets that we are prepared to accept a Trident II/Typhoon exemption for the period of the Treaty—or no limits whatever on new types of SLBMs.5

On the new types definition issue, the Soviets recently tabled a new proposal which accepts the five percent criterion and most of the missile parameters which we included in our definition.


We have proposed to the Soviets that they provide us with the following set of assurances on Backfire:

—A figure for the current production rate.

—A commitment that Backfire would replace current Soviet medium bombers on a 1:1 basis.

—A commitment not to train for intercontinental missions.

—A ban on aerial refueling operations.

—Removal of fuel probes from Backfire.

—A ban on increased range/payload capability.

—A ban on Arctic basing.

—A request for operational range figure with flight profile.

—A ban on long-range ALCMs on the Backfire.6

There are good arguments for all of these assurances and none would have a significant impact on the employment of Backfire in its role as a medium bomber.7

To date, the Soviets have only offered the production freeze and, at that, have failed to give us a specific number. While we may not need all of the above assurances, it will be critically important to obtain assurances at a minimum on production rate, training, upgrading, and refueling.

Number of ALCMs per Heavy Bomber

The Soviets in Geneva recently proposed a limit of 20 ALCMs per heavy bomber. This is probably a response to our proposal for a limit on the maximum number of RVs per missile. Semenov has indicated that Gromyko may raise this issue in the current series of SALT discussions.

There is no way that we can accept a limit of 20 ALCMs per heavy bomber. It would kill the wide-bodied cruise missile carrier program—a major selling point for both the B–1 decision and our acceptance of counting ALCM-carrying heavy bombers in the 1320.

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There are also good reasons why, in principle, the number of ALCMs per heavy bomber should not be limited in SALT TWO. In particular, bomber armament limitations of this type should be coupled to air defense8 limitations which do not yet exist—in contrast to the situation for ICBMs and SLBMs where the ABM Treaty mitigates the need for further missile fractionation.9

Dismantling to 2250

We have tabled in Geneva the recently approved approach to dismantling to reach 2250. You will recall that this approach calls for: (1) a January 1, 1980 effective date for the 2250; (2) rendering systems “inoperable” by April 30, 1980; and (3) completion of dismantling in stages by December 31, 1980.10

It is possible that Gromyko may raise this issue and propose extension of the dates for completion of dismantling. We may be able to slip these dates by, for example three months, but our agreement to 2250 certainly undercuts the argument that dismantling would be burdensome because of the numbers involved.

Principles for SALT Three

We expect to be tabling a reviewed set of SALT Three Principles in Geneva within a few weeks. We are moving toward very general principles and, although some negotiating will be necessary, this issue should not prove difficult to resolve.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 4/21/78–7/10/78. Top Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Tabs A and B were not attached.
  3. In the margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote, “no.”
  4. Carter circled “Treaty” and wrote in the margin, “not a treaty.” He also underlined “one exemption, MIRVed or unMIRVed.”
  5. Carter underlined “SLBMs,” “Trident II/Typhoon,” and “or no limits.”
  6. Carter underlined portions of all these points.
  7. Carter underlined “none.”
  8. Carter underlined “ALCMs” in the previous sentence and “air defense” in this sentence and drew a line between the two.
  9. Carter underlined “ICBMs” and “ABM” in this sentence and drew a line between the two.
  10. Carter underlined portions of this paragraph, including all the dates.