21. United States Proposal1

Strategic Arms Limitations

We wish to put forward some considerations on how we might proceed in the SALT talks to prepare for the General Secretary’s visit.

We both agree that a more complete and permanent agreement is our objective. This is our interpretation of the Soviet proposals of April 6, submitted in Geneva.2 The Soviet Union suggests that we reach an understanding on basic provisions of a permanent agreement based es [Page 75] sentially on the Interim Agreement but expanded to include a number of areas not covered by limitations.

The US believes the Interim Agreement is a starting point for discussions, though there should be some modifications in accord with the aims of a longer term agreement. We both agree, however, that questions of qualitative improvements will be an important aspect of a permanent agreement.

It thus appears that we have an opportunity to sustain the momentum created by our previous success by working out an understanding as proposed by the Soviet side.

Thus the following steps could be adopted:

1. Negotiation on the basic provisions of a permanent agreement should proceed in Geneva with the objective of developing by the General Secretary’s visit an understanding on (a) numerical limitations on ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers, (b) limitations on qualitative improvements, especially on MIRV for land-based ICBMs; (c) how to deal with those nuclear systems that would not be precisely limited so as not to circumvent the main agreement; and (d) general questions related to the exercise of restraint in developing and deploying new or more modern strategic systems.

Simultaneously, in order to take advantage of the favorable atmosphere for negotiations, we could proceed to develop for signature as soon as possible a provisional agreement that would supplement the existing Interim Agreement. The US believes there is an opportunity to work out agreed limits on the testing and deployment of MIRV/MRVs for land-based ICBMs based on the existing situation.

In our view the two processes—of developing an understanding on the basic provisions of a permanent agreement and negotiating a provisional agreement on MIRVs—are related. Conclusion of a provisional agreement on MIRVs would facilitate progress on a permanent agreement and would be based on the understanding that the actual negotiations for a permanent agreement would be completed as soon as possible.

It is possible to envisage a joint announcement during the summit meeting in Washington.3 Meanwhile, the US delegation in Geneva will proceed to develop views on a permanent agreement in more detail, [Page 76] and Dr. Kissinger will be prepared to discuss the attached documents explaining our position.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 496, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 16, April 1973. Top Secret. A note states that the proposal was handed to Dobrynin by Kissinger on April 27.
  2. See Document 19.
  3. A draft joint announcement, entitled “Basic Principles on the Further Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons,” was also handed to Dobrynin by Kissinger on April 27. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 496, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 16) This was a counterproposal, prepared in response to a Soviet draft of basic principles that was transmitted in backchannel message WH30981 from Kissinger to Johnson, May 2. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages–1973/74–SALT–Geneva)