229. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

Secto 15013. White House for the President, Department for Christopher, Department pass DOD for Sec. Brown. Subject: Second Vance-Gromyko meeting, Dec. 22, 1978.2

1. This message will summarize my meeting this afternoon and offer my recommendations:

2. On cruise missile definition, Soviets agreed to separate definitions in Treaty and Protocol. Treaty definition would cover only those air-launched CMs limited by treaty; Protocol definition would cover GL/SLCMs and would expire with Protocol. Gromyko several times underscored that everything in the Protocol expires at the end of the Protocol. He said this three times. Language is to be worked out by delegations.3

3. On multiple warhead cruise missiles, Gromyko recognized that “since the circumstances had changed since the time when they proposed a universal definition,” it would be appropriate to deal with multiple warhead cruise missiles only for the Protocol period. However, (perhaps since the Politburo had approved the instructions on this point) he would have to seek approval from Moscow for any [Page 919] change in position. My assessment is that they will agree to include the ban on multiple independently-targetable warhead cruise missiles in the Protocol only, and I would recommend acceptance of such a provision in the Protocol.

4. On the definition of new types, Gromyko raised a new point, acknowledging as he did so that it was “not on the agenda, but very important.” The new point was a proposal that the definition of new types should ban increases of five percent in the limited categories, but permit decreases of up to twenty percent. (The Soviet position recently tabled permits only five percent increases, but unlimited decreases.) Presumably this is intended to accommodate some Soviet program. In this connection, I observed that the delegations should be given instructions to resolve remaining issues forthwith.4

5. On telemetry encryption, I began by reaffirming our view that access to information transmitted telemetrically is relevant to verification. Gromyko did not disagree; nor did he respond affirmatively. I think it significant that for the first time in the course of our discussions of this issue, he, by silence, did not dissent from my assertion of the relevance of telemetry to verification. Following that, he offered to recommend to Moscow new language to deal with the issue, which conformed to the “non-proposal” Ambassador Earle had given the Soviet side a few hours earlier, with the addition of three words, provided I would provide the language he proposed to Washington for consideration. The language, with his insertions, follows:

“The sides agree that the negotiating record reflects the common understanding that each party is free to use various methods of transmitting telemetric information during testing, including its encryption, except that, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3 of Article XV, neither party shall engage in deliberate denial of telemetric information, such as through the use of telemetry encryption, whenever such denial impedes verification of compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.” (The three added Soviet words are “including its encryption.”)5

6. Finally, on the issue of unarmed, pilotless aircraft (RPVs), I noted that we had proposed a type rule that appears to meet what we understood to be our mutual concerns. I indicated that we hope for a prompt, affirmative answer, adding that I thought we should be able to [Page 920] settle this tomorrow. I expect Gromyko will be able to settle on the basis of a type rule, and I suspect that the only reason he could not agree on the spot is the need for Politburo approval of a change in a Politburo-approved position.6

7. In private conversation, he confirmed an annual production rate of 30 for Backfire, and said he would recommend that Brezhnev confirm the same number, expressing his view that it was not certain that this could be done.7

8. There was no further discussion of the ALCM average number or agreement to limit the number of ALCMs deployed on existing bombers (B–52, Bear, Bison) to 20.

9. My recommendations on these issues are as follows:

A. Telemetry encryption: Earle “non-paper” language preserves all essential elements of US position. Only Soviet addition is “including its encryption.” Gromyko commented that additional words are already “buried” in “methods” and are countered by Soviet acceptance of “such as” and “denial.” Recommend that I be authorized to accept our revised formulation with non-substantive Soviet addition. This should be taken in context of Gromyko’s not disputing my assertion of relevance of telemetry to verification.8

B. Cruise missile definition: Also recommend that Earle be authorized to pursue separate definitions applicable to all cruise missiles in Protocol and ALCMs only in Treaty. In this context, I would plan to state that the inclusion of conventionally-armed cruise missiles in the definition of ground- and sea-launched cruise missiles does not constitute a precedent for the scope of any limits on ground- and sea-launched cruise missiles that might be agreed in the future.9

C. RPVs: Authorize Earle to pursue solutions to unarmed RPV/cruise missile problem on basis of type rule.

D. New types definition: Authorize Earle to use 20 percent downside rule as leverage for Soviet agreement to most important parts of US new types definition. Washington should forthwith define priorities in this area, including any areas in which 20 percent reduction not acceptable.

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10. I intend to table language along the following lines for an exchange of letters on the number of cruise missiles on existing heavy bombers:

“The US side informs the Soviet side that during the term of the Treaty the maximum number of cruise missiles capable of a range in excess of 600 KM for which the United States of America will equip any existing heavy bomber for one operational mission is 20.”

This language parallels Backfire letter. The Soviets would provide an identical letter, dealing with Bison and Bear.10

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 10/23/78–1/15/79. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis; Cherokee. The telegram was sent to Plains, Georgia, where the President was spending Christmas, as telegram WH81684. At the top of the first page of the telegram sent to Georgia, Carter wrote his initial. (Ibid.)
  2. In telegram Secto 15005 to the White House, Christopher, and Brown, December 21, 2251Z, Vance summarized the opening plenary morning session. Vance noted that Gromyko stated that cruise missile definitions should cover nuclear, conventional, and unarmed missiles; suggested that a ban on cruise missiles with multiple warheads could be a treaty article or agreed statement; confirmed Soviet willingness to accept U.S. ICBM fractionation proposals conditional on cruise missile resolution; indicated willingness to amend the Soviet telemetry proposal; and renewed the issue of Minuteman II/III. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram WH81685 to Vance, December 22, Brzezinski informed Vance that Carter approved paragraph 2 subject to a final review of language based on Defense Department concerns. (Ibid., Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 17)
  4. In telegram WH81685, Brzezinski informed Vance that Carter instructed him in regard to paragraph 4 to “tell the Soviets that we are concerned that the insertion of this new and complicated issue may be designed to provide the Soviet Union in effect with an additional exemption for a new ICBM, and we therefore cannot accept this.” (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram WH81685, Brzezinski informed Vance that Carter instructed him in regard to paragraph 5 to tell the Soviets that the United States could accept the addition of the three words, “including its encryption,” but if it was used as it was in a July 29, 1978, test of an SS–16, it would be considered “deliberate concealment.” (Ibid.)
  6. According to telegram WH81685, the President agreed regarding paragraph 6. (Ibid.)
  7. With regard to paragraph 7, the President agreed subject to Brezhnev’s confirmation to Carter or acceptance of Gromyko’s verbal confirmation “as part of the negotiating record.” (Ibid.)
  8. On the copy sent to Plains, Carter underlined this sentence beginning with “my assertion” and wrote in the margin, “Gromyko agree.” (Ibid.)
  9. In telegram WH81685, Brzezinski noted that Carter thought the statement important and Vance should make it. (Ibid.)
  10. Brzezinski instructed Vance in telegram WH81685 to change in paragraph 10 “any existing heavy bomber” to “B–52s” with the understanding that the Soviet letter would cover the Bison and the Bear. If the B–1 bomber was raised, current instructions stood. (Ibid.)