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


  • Your SALT Meeting with Gromyko

Attached at Tab A is a table summarizing the current US and Soviet SALT positions and the agreed recommended changes in the US position as discussed at today’s SCC meeting.2 The issues on which you will have to make a decision are described below. (Issues are numbered as in Tab A.)3

5/9. Number of ALCMs per Heavy Bomber/Multiple Warhead Cruise Missiles

ISSUE: How do we respond to the Soviet proposal for limits on heavy bombers equipped with more than 20 ALCMs and a ban on multiple warhead cruise missiles?

Option A. US statement indicating that we will continue to develop and test cruise missile concepts and various cruise missile carriers, but do not plan to deploy cruise missile carriers with more than 20 ALCMs or to deploy multiple-warhead ALCMs during the period of the agreement dependent on deployment of Soviet air defense and other forces including the total number of Soviet warheads.

Option B. Same as Alternative A but delete the conditional part of the statement (dependent on . . . Soviet warheads.)

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Option C. Count cruise missile carriers equipped with more than 20 ALCMs as “two” in the 1320. Provide statement that US has no plans for multiple warhead ALCM deployment prior to 1985.

(NB: The agreed cruise missile definition is that the cruise missile limits in the Protocol apply to both nuclear-armed and conventionally-armed cruise missiles. After the expiration of the Protocol, our position is that the ban on ALCMs over 600 km on non-heavy bombers applies only to nuclear-armed CMs unless determined otherwise in future negotiations. The Soviets want the definition to cover nuclear and conventional ALCMs. We have also stated that we reserve the right to propose different limits on nuclear-armed and conventionally-armed GLCMs and SLCMs in future negotiations. Acceptance of the Soviet definition would affect this negotiation position.

Option A. Offer to accept the new Soviet proposal on the cruise missile range definition if they accept our position on the cruise missile definition issue, making it clear that we have not accepted limitation of any conventionally armed cruise missile after the expiration of the Protocol.

Option B. Accept the new Soviet proposal on the cruise missile range definition; be prepared to accept the Soviet position on the cruise missile definition issue.

Agency Positions/Arguments

SecDef and CJCS favor Option A. To make the Soviet range definition acceptable, we must have Soviet agreement to our current position on cruise missile definition. Otherwise the Soviet range definition would impact heavily on ongoing programs for conventionally-armed cruise missiles, including anti-ship Tomahawk, the radar harassment vehicle, and “returnable cruise missiles” to attack airfields, etc. Restrictions on conventional weapons have no place in SALT and would create grave political problems, both here and with our allies.

In addition, to reduce problems with the allies, it must be clear within the USG that the non-circumvention clause would not preclude us from cooperating with our allies on cruise missile tests to beyond 600 km, for deployment after the Protocol. We already have a cooperative program with the FRG for a conventional weapon which could be caught by the Soviet range definition, and preservation of the right to cooperate on cruise missiles for theater nuclear applications is important for the credibility of our argument that we have left NATO options unconstrained.

State/ACDA favor Option B. Soviets made major concession to us on no limits on ALCM range (overcomes our air defense problems through 1985 by permitting unlimited stand-off capability and unlimited maneuvers against defense) in return for the 600 km limit on GLCMs and SLCMs. If we now tie this to other issues, we jeopardize [Page 888] this concession. In any event, we are not hurt by the 600 limit since it is only for the Protocol for GLCMs and SLCMs.

Additionally, State/ACDA believe that instead of tying this issue to Soviet acceptance of our CM definition, we should be prepared to accept the Soviet all-armed definition. Our current position cannot be verified and would allow deployment of “alleged” conventionally-armed, long-range CMs on Backfire. In any event, GLCMs and SLCMs are covered only in the Protocol.

12. Backfire

ISSUE: Should the ban on association with an intercontinental mission be included in our list of Backfire assurances?

There is agreement on including the freeze on the Backfire production rate (2½ per month) and the ban on upgrade in range/payload capability. There is also agreement that we should state to the Soviets (and publicly) that we retain the right to deploy an aircraft comparable to the Backfire.

Option A. Include the ban on association with an intercontinental mission.

Option B. Do not include the ban on association with an intercontinental mission.

Agency Positions/Arguments

State/ACDA favor Option A. Since we could monitor the Soviets’ changing Backfire operations from theater to strategic, this ban would provide some additional constraint on the use of the Backfire. It thus provides a basis for challenging changes in Backfire missions. In these ways, it improves our case with Congress.

SecDef and CJCS position. The JCS position remains that Backfire should count in the aggregate.

In the event it is not, the ban on “association” is not crucial. It would provide some basis for challenging Soviet actions, but even without it, conversion of forces not covered by SALT for intercontinental missions would raise compliance and non-circumvention problems. To avoid the appearance of trusting in Soviet assurances that are not verifiable and pose easy breakout opportunities, DOD prefers Option B, i.e., to drop the “association” assurance.

The table at Tab A shows where there is interagency agreement on other unresolved issues.

—2. ICBM Fractionation. Oppose the Gromyko proposal for a 6-RV limit on the exempted ICBM, in particular in light of the existence of a 10-RV variant of the SS–18. Hold to 10 RVs.

—3. New Types Definition. This issue can be quickly settled in Geneva, since Gromyko indicated flexibility.

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—4. Size of ICBM Exemption/Heavy Mobile Missiles. Gromyko did not address our proposed ban on heavy mobile missiles (heavy mobile ICBMs, heavy SLBMs, and heavy ASBMs). It need not be mentioned since initial Soviet reactions in Geneva to this proposal have been positive and it should be easy to resolve.

—8. Intercontinental Cruise Missiles (ICCMs). In agreeing to the Soviet proposal to drop all cruise missile range limits over 600 km, we would also be dropping our proposal to ban ICCMs through 1985. This might be noted for Gromyko in discussing the cruise missile range definition issue.

—10. Depressed Trajectories. Our proposed ban on testing SLBMs on depressed trajectories would be desirable, although this will not be a barrier to completion of the agreement.

—11. Dismantling to 2250/Duration of Protocol. Accept the Soviet-proposed December 30, 1981 date for completion of dismantling, provided: (1) they accept June 30, 1981 for Protocol termination and (2) those systems to be dismantled to reach 2250 are put in a state of irreversible inoperability by June 30, 1981. With regard to the second point, we have tabled in Geneva criteria for rendering inoperable systems to be dismantled to reach 2250. We are willing to negotiate on them.

—13. Telemetry Encryption. We have proposed in Geneva that the sides agree on a Common Understanding to clarify the issue of telemetry encryption. This Common Understanding would obligate the sides not to engage in deliberate denial of telemetric information, such as through the use of telemetry encryption, which impedes verification of compliance with the provisions of the Treaty. You might reiterate this position to Gromyko and stress its importance.

It would be appropriate to mention to Gromyko that there are a number of other issues that need to be resolved in Geneva, without naming them. (This includes such items as bomber counting rules, database issues, statement of SALT Three principles, ICBM test notification, etc.)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 53, SALT: 8–9/77. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information.
  2. The table at Tab A was not attached. The summary of the SCC meeting, September 29, is ibid., Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 9/29/78–10/22/78.
  3. In a memorandum also dated September 29, Brzezinski informed the President that the NSC Staff supported option A on the number of ALCM and heavy bombers, option A on cruise missile definitions, and option A on Backfire. (Ibid., Box 53, SALT: 8–9/77)