208. Editorial Note

Secretary of State Vance was in Geneva from July 11 to 13, 1978, for discussions with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko. SALT was the principal topic discussed. In telegram Secto 8019, July 12, Vance reported on his morning meeting of July 12 in which he made a formal presentation on SALT at the opening of the session. Vance read the following statement:

“This morning I propose that we focus on one of the most important issues remaining to be resolved in the agreement: limitations on the introduction of new types of strategic missiles and on modernization of existing types of strategic missiles.

“I would first like to review where we stand on the issues of new types of ICBMs and SLBMs and of modernization of existing types.

“In previous discussions we have proposed a ban on testing and deployment of new types of ICBMs in the Protocol. This would prohibit introduction of new types of ICBMs through 1980 while we discuss how to deal with this issue in SALT III.

“We have also indicated that we could accept a ban on testing and deployment of new types of ICBMs through 1985, except that either side could test and deploy one new ICBM, MIRVed, or non-MIRVed. This would permit you to go ahead with the new, single RV ICBM, [Page 857] which fits your force structure, and would permit us to proceed with a new MIRVed ICBM, which would fit into our force structure. This would provide for equality and equal security on both sides.

“Either of these proposals would represent a satisfactory solution of the ICBM new types issue.

“In the context of a Protocol ban on new types of ICBMs, we could agree to a ban on new types of SLBMs, allowing for continued testing and deployment of Trident I and for the SS–N–18.

“In the context of a ban on new types of ICBMs through 1985 with one exemption, MIRVed or non-MIRVed, for each side, we could agree to a ban on new types of SLBMs for the same period, with one exemption. In our case this would be the Trident II, and in your case this would be the Typhoon (RSM–52). Under this proposal, Trident I and the SS–N–18 would be considered existing types.

“You have proposed a ban on new types of ICBMs for the Protocol period, except that each side would be permitted to test and deploy one new type of ICBM with a single reentry vehicle. This proposal would prevent us from testing any new missile, while allowing you to go ahead with a new single RV ICBM for which we have no program and no need. This is inequitable and unacceptable to us.

“You have also proposed a ban on new types through 1985, with the same exemption for a new single RV ICBM. This is even more one-sided:

“—The U.S. would have no new ICBM for the duration of the 1985 agreement, since we have no program or requirement for a new single RV ICBM.

“—The Soviet Union would, however, be able to deploy its entirely new type of single RV ICBM.

“Finally, you have proposed a ban on the testing and deployment of new types of ICBMs through 1985, without exception. This proposal indicates that you can forego a new single RV ICBM. In that sense, it represents a constructive step to which we have given consideration in our own thinking. The logic of this proposal argues that you should be able to accept our proposal for a Protocol ban on all new types, which would impose equal constraints on both sides.

“As for SLBM new types, your proposal is the same for all variants: a ban on flight testing and deployment for either the Protocol or the 1985 period, with an exception for Trident I and the Typhoon. This is not equitable. Trident I has already begun flight-testing and should be treated the same as SS–N–18. Soviet rights to a new, untested SLBM must be balanced by equal rights for the US. This means that Trident II and Typhoon must be treated comparably. Either they must both be banned or both be exempted.

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“There is also the question of how to define a new type of ICBM, which is being addressed by the delegations. The US has made a major move in the direction of the Soviet side, so we are closer to agreement on this issue. However, significant differences remain.

“I want to emphasize the importance of a prohibition on an increase in the number of reentry vehicles on existing types of ICBMs and SLBMs. The US side notes the Soviet inclusion in its May 1978 proposal of the rule that in the course of modernization of an existing type, the number of RVs on that type should not be increased. We welcome this indication that you agree that fractionation limits for ballistic missiles are a valuable part of dealing meaningfully with the new types issue.

“In this connection, we believe each side should specify how many RVs have been tested on existing types.

“The US also regards as important the elements of our definition of new types about restricting changes in individual stages and in the relevant characteristics of what we call the post-boost vehicle for current missiles.

“We also believe that an exempted new type of ICBM should not have more than 10 reentry vehicles, which is the maximum number tested to date on an ICBM on either side. Similarly, if we agree to exempt a new type of SLBM, there should be a limit on the number of reentry vehicles at 14, the maximum number tested by either side to date on an SLBM.

“It is clearly important to limit the number of reentry vehicles on exempted missiles. This provision, along with the ban on increasing the number of reentry vehicles on existing ballistic missiles, would make a significant contribution to the effectiveness of a new types ban and to the stability of the strategic balance.

“We have explained the rationale for the two alternatives for a ban on new types of ICBMs we have offered, and I continue to believe that either would lead to an equitable solution of this issue.

“As I said at the beginning, the new types issue is one of the most important political-level issues remaining to be resolved in the agreement. If we are able to reach a satisfactory solution, I believe we will have made a great stride toward a final agreement.

“In recognition of the importance of the issue for the progress of these negotiations, and in light of those constructive elements of the Soviet May 1978 proposals, and in an effort to bridge the gap between your proposals and ours, I am prepared to offer the following compromise.

“I want to emphasize that in our view the new types issue has several related elements which apply to both ICBMs and SLBMs: a ban on new types, a definition of permitted modernization of existing types [Page 859] which prevents increases in the number of RVs on an existing type; and possible exemptions for new types. Our new proposal has been designed to resolve all these elements as a whole. It forms an integrated package and cannot be broken into individual parts.

“We are prepared to prohibit testing aand deployment of any new types of ICBMs through 1985, except that each side would be permitted to flight-test one new type of ICBM, MIRVed or non-MIRVed. However, deployment of new types of ICBMs would be prohibited through 1985.

“—New types of ICBMs would be determined by the definition which we have proposed, including a ban on an increase in the maximum number of reentry vehicles on any existing type of missile. The exempted ICBM could have no more than 10 reentry vehicles.

“—This proposal, when considered in relation to the 820 limit on MIRVed ICBMs, represents a meaningful arms control step. Yet it gives both sides flexibility in deciding how to structure its mix of MIRVed and single warhead ICBMs.

“We are also prepared to agree to a ban on new types of SLBMs through 1985, except that one new type of SLBM could be tested and deployed. The SLBM exemption would apply to the Typhoon on your side and Trident II on our side. The Trident I and the SS–N–18 would be considered existing SLBMs.

“There would be a prohibition on increases in the number of reentry vehicles for existing types of SLBMs. The maximum number of reentry vehicles on an exempted SLBM would be 14.

“This proposal takes into account the essential elements of the approaches taken by both sides: you wanted to ban new ICBMs through 1985, and they could be banned. We have sought to obtain equality of constraints on both sides. It is good arms control and it gives each side flexibilty to structure its own forces.

“In making this proposal, I want also to make it clear that the US cannot accept a limit on the number of ALCMs carried by an aircraft limited under the 1320 ceiling, and this new proposal is contingent on your agreement that there be no such limits.

“As I said, this new proposal is offered as an integrated package and cannot be broken into individual parts. We offer it in an effort to seek a fair and a prompt resolution of this issue.

“I want to make two points in conclusion.

“The United States has had no new ICBMs since the MM III, first deployed almost a decade ago. The Soviet Union has deployed several ICBMs in that period, most of them MIRVed and far larger than the MM III.

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“I must emphasize that by making this proposal the US has made a serious and substantial political commitment to conclude a new agreement.” (Department of State, Marshall Shulman Files, Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot File 81D109, Vance/Gromyko: Geneva, 7/12–13, 1978)

After hearing Vance’s statement, Gromyko asked for a recess until 3 p.m. when the delegations met again. In telegram Secto 8022, July 12, Vance reported on the significant portion of Gromyko’s response as follows:

“1. At the end of this afternoon’s meeting, Gromyko came to what he described as the ‘core’ of his statement: ‘I wish to ask a direct question—this is the core of my statement—if the U.S. really attaches paramount importance to the solution of the question of new types of ballistic missiles on the basis it proposes, will it be prepared to regard as agreed all other questions (cruise missiles on bombers, timing for reductions, Backfire, etc.) on the basis of our proposals, in the event we were to consent to U.S. proposals that for the duration of the treaty—i.e. to the end of 1985—within the limits of the relevant aggregate levels of strategic arms and MIRVed vehicles—each side would have the right to flight test and to deploy one new type of ICBM which it could equip at its own discretion either with MIRVs or with a single reentry vehicle, while there would be no limitations whatsoever on new types of SLBMs?’

“2. There are a number of important ambiguities in the foregoing. For instance: when Gromyko speaks of accepting the U.S. position on ‘new types of ballistic missiles’, does he mean our full position on the definition of new types? What does he mean by ‘etc.’? Do the Soviets accept that our MIRV type rules would apply to their new single warhead missile?

“3. I would intend to explore these and other ambiguities without flatly rejecting the proposal implicit in Gromyko’s question. This would give us a basis for further evaluation and response.

“4. I do not intend to raise any new points with regard to Backfire since the Soviets did not accept our proposal as you directed it be made.

“5. Gromyko’s ‘question’ was preceded by his usual colorful remarks. He once again urged us to be firmer in our public support for SALT, and I told him we were already being firm. He accused us of seeking unilateral advantages, and I responded that it was the Soviets who were doing just that and that our proposals were fair. He was predictably sour about our new types proposal that I made this morning, saying that it was simply a ruse to allow us to contine our own programs and block Soviet programs. I stressed that it was an effort to bridge the gap, taking into account the national interests of both sides. I [Page 861] believe that the Soviets have not had time to give it any serious consideration.” (Ibid.)

In telegram Secto 8033, dated July 13, Vance reported on that day’s discussion of SALT:

“1. In SALT portion of meeting, Gromyko provided the following clarification of their proposal of yesterday.

“A. The Soviet proposal related only to its actual words, i.e., that each side could have one new ICBM type, MIRVed or not.

“B. The proposal did not exclude or include fractionation or definition issues. Definition, which he described as when modernization makes an existing type a new missile, should be handled by delegations. He said they agree that a fractionation limit was a sound principle and should be included, but was linked to a solution of the major issues, i.e., their acceptance of our position on freedom to chose a MIRVed or single RV ICBM in return for our acceptance of their position on cruise missile fractionation, timing of reductions and Backfire. Limits on numbers of SLBM RVs was similarly a side question that could be discussed by delegations.

“C. The Soviet proposal for handling exceptions (one ICBM, no limit on SLBMs) was linked only to U.S. acceptance of Soviet positions on the three items specifically indentified—Backfire, ALCM limits per aircraft, and timing of reductions. There is, as he put it, ‘no et cetera.’ He said the Soviets could not retreat on Backfire—ALCM numbers, but sounded a little more flexible on timing of reductions. On Backfire, however, he repeated that while they ‘could not add one comma, they could make it more compact’ eliminating some matters, if that was what we wanted.

“D. The aggregates referred to are the 2400, 2250, 1320, 1200, 820. On what he called the ‘secondary issues’ i.e., those not listed, he seemed to want to suggest that the Soviets could be flexible, saying that the other matters were open for discussion by the delegations and all they had said was that they should be settled ‘on the basis’ of their proposals.

“2. In side conversation, Dobrynin said that ‘because of China’ there could never be limits on air defenses, and suggested Soviets had come to Geneva with their proposal and had not considered our new proposal in great detail.” (Ibid.)

The memoranda of conversations of the meetings reported in the telegrams above are ibid. The telegrams are scheduled to be printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume VI, Soviet Union.