33. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Anatol Dobrynin, Ambassador of the Soviet Union
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

We met for the usual lavish lunch at 1:15.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

SALT. Dobrynin then turned the conversation to SALT. He asked whether we had any reactions. I told him I would send him a formal paper the next day [as sent, Tab A],2 but I could say now the following: It seemed to me that the Soviet Union was insisting on equivalence in the numbers of MIRVed vehicles. Dobrynin replied that this was not absolutely true but it seemed to be the direction in which they were going. If this was the case, I said, there had to be an equivalence in the total number of weapons on both sides—that is to say, equal aggregates. Dobrynin asked how the Forward-Based Systems would fit into it. I said that since one could not inspect the total number of warheads on each vehicle, it seemed to me that the better solution was to give the Soviets compensation in larger throw weights and perhaps in letting them have more MIRVs on each vehicle, if that was the direction their development went, and this seemed to me to be what Brezhnev was saying. Thirdly, I said the limitations of MIRVed vehicles would have to be by classes. That is to say, certain types could not be MIRVed at all because we did not think that any upper limit could be established that was verifiable. Dobrynin asked how that could be. I said that we had confidence that we could determine whether, for example, the SS–9’s were MIRVed, but whether 200 or 250 of the SS–9’s were MIRVed was impossible to determine.

I asked Dobrynin what he thought the purpose of a SALT agreement would be under these conditions. Dobrynin replied that he was speaking strictly for himself, but it seemed to him that we should make a big step forward and not just agree to do what we were going to do anyway, which he thought was the case with the Interim Agreement. [Page 101] Specifically, Dobrynin felt that we might perhaps agree not to deploy any new missiles for a ten-year period. I asked Dobrynin whether he meant Trident. He said, yes. I said would they then in turn agree not to deploy the SS–17 and 18, and the mobile missiles? He said that seemed to be implied by his statement, although he reiterated that he had no authority to make it. I told him I would study this and let him know.

I then said that it seemed to me difficult to explain why the Soviet Union was developing missiles and at such a rate and how Grechko justified his expenditures before the Politburo. Dobrynin said he could assure me that there was no Soviet doctrine of a first strike and that Grechko justified it with two arguments: (1) a force strong enough to deal with both China and the United States simultaneously, (2) by arguments with respect to weapons development in the United States. He thought that the Soviet Union would never have gone into MIRV unless we had preceded them. He felt, therefore, that we were driving the Soviet program. I said, of course, our perception was exactly the opposite. Dobrynin replied this is why a ten-year moratorium on new missiles would be desirable. He could already see the day coming when the Soviet Union would develop its own version of the Trident submarine, although it didn’t make nearly so much sense for them as a land-locked country. (I didn’t point out to him that given its range it would make more sense for them than for us.)

I gave Dobrynin another note on the problem of the new Soviet silos which they claimed to be modernized command facilities. [Tab B]3

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 19, July 13–October 11, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. All brackets, except for those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. The meeting took place at the Soviet Embassy.
  2. Dobrynin is referring to the Soviet paper of July 27 printed as Tab C to Document 32. The U.S. paper attached to this memorandum of conversation at Tab A is printed as Tab B to Document 32.
  3. Tab B is attached but not printed.