43. Minutes of a Verification Panel Meeting1


  • SALT


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Kenneth Rush
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • Seymour Weiss
  • Frank Perez
  • DOD
  • William Clements
  • Dr. Fred Wickner
  • Paul Nitze
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. Edward Rowny
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • Carl Duckett
  • ACDA
  • Dr. Fred Ikle
  • Sydney Graybeal
  • Ralph Earle
  • NSC Staff
  • Major Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Jan Lodal
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • David Aaron
  • Jeanne W. Davis

[Omitted here are the Summary of Conclusions and Duckett’s briefing and discussion related to it.]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Lodal) Can we do this?

Mr. Lodal: Yes; we’ll do it.

Secretary Kissinger: This is important. Alex (Johnson), do you want to tell us about Geneva?

Mr. Johnson: You have all seen the October 9 Soviet proposal.2 I understand there was some surprise in Washington at its extreme nature. We on the delegation weren’t surprised. The Russians have told me that they are teaching me the dialectic. They present an extreme position, and we reply with an extreme position, we work from each one [Page 129] and get a synthesis. The chief issue is forward based systems. They have made it clear that they can’t talk about FBS in any rational discussion; that they have their instructions from the highest levels and that they can’t move on the question. They say if we will concede on FBS, they will concede on aggregates (by implication, equal aggregates), with an allowance for the French and British submarines. If we don’t concede on FBS, we will have to give them some compensation on the aggregate. They won’t talk about aggregates on central systems until the FBS issue is solved. They have come down hard on Trident and the B–1—they’re trying to stop them. They say if we give up Trident, they will give up the next generation D-class submarines. On the bombers, they will give up a new heavy bomber for the B–1. When I say “you don’t mention your new ICBMs”, they are quiet. They have also put emphasis on bomber armament and long-range air to surface missiles.

On the positive side, the October 9 proposal for the first time indicated that they would consider something short of total MIRVing on both sides. They didn’t expand on it though. They have a very clever position. It is obvious that a larger number of ICBMs and SLBMs means a larger number of MIRVs. They have built in many retreat positions in their draft. On the submarines, they talk about no new “generation”, but on bombers they talk about new “types.”

Mr. Duckett: If the new sub is a modified D-class, they could argue that it is not a new type.

Mr. Johnson: If we are going to get close to an agreement, we have to have some definitions of terms like modernization, modification, replacement, new types, new generation. We need help on this problem of definitions. Also, we have got them to accept the concept that throw-weight is a valid measure of capability. They have said: “If you don’t like our draft, where are your counter-proposals? Our instructions permit us to start negotiations. Let’s get down to specifics.”

Secretary Kissinger: For what it is worth, they’re telling me the exact opposite. Both Brezhnev and Gromyko told me they haven’t completed their studies yet.

Mr. Rush: I’d put more weight in what they told you.

Mr. Johnson: So would I. I’m not clear on how Semenov gets his instructions. He has made some tough attacks, saying he was under instructions, on U.S. expansion of strategic programs. When I counterattack, he has no stomach for pursuing the issue. Shchukin has told Paul (Nitze), at least by implication, that Brezhnev and Kosygin are not challenging us. There must be someone in a Working Group in Moscow who tells Semenov to make a tough speech about something. In his last attack, he was so careful to say that he was acting under instructions. Also, he made a proposal on an interim agreement on non-transfer. I [Page 130] told him that puzzled me. Why should we try for an interim agreement when we don’t know what we want in a permanent agreement.

Secretary Kissinger: We could have an interim agreement, but it would be stupid to make it.

Mr. Johnson: Yes. We agreed to meet again in mid-December.

Secretary Kissinger: Paul (Nitze), do you have anything to add?

Mr. Nitze: In addition to the advantage in number of missiles MIRVed, it would also give them a substantial advantage in throw-weight.

Mr. Johnson: That’s an important point.

Dr. Ikle: Assuming our throw-weight were frozen.

Mr. Johnson: The agreement says no new MLBMs. They already have theirs and we couldn’t convert ours.

Gen. Rowny: Their military people apparently get good marks for “progress”. They’re constantly asking if there isn’t something we can discuss: the preamble, the last clause. They think there must be something we can agree on.

Mr. Johnson: I was silent for two or three weeks when we first went over there and that bothered them.

Secretary Kissinger: We have the subsidiary issue of whether we resume in mid-December or resume when we have something to say. We also have the problem of what to say; whether to do something in Geneva; whether to have the President do something with Brezhnev; whether to take an extreme position. In conversations with me, the Russians indicated they were having problems with their studies. Therefore, they said it would be helpful to them to get an idea of what seems conceivable to us. This indicates they are taking a holding position. There’s not much sense in the U.S. putting in a holding position. I told them we don’t plan to propose anything new. We need to get a clearer idea of where we’re heading. We need to decide whether to put in an extreme position, or something like our present position with some trade-offs. We need a clear goal. We’re agreed on equal aggregates, but, in itself, that is not a great conceptual breakthrough when MIRV testing is in its present state. The situation will be out of control in a few months. We need a time limit on MIRV modification. We have two problems: 1) to define our view of how to handle MIRVs: to get some categories of choices; and 2) if we can’t get a handle on the MIRV question, where does this take us? What is the purpose of an agreement? We throw around phrases like equal aggregates and reductions, but these have quite different meanings if you’re talking about single RVs or MIRVs. I don’t want to pre-judge the issue, but I want to discuss the direction in which we want to go. What are we trying to communicate to the Soviets?

[Page 131]

Mr. Rush: Our most immediate concern is the MIRVing of the MLBMs, and the possibility of a test ban on MIRVing MLBMs.

Gen. Rowny: They won’t give up on FBS until the very end.

Mr. Rush: We shouldn’t either.

Secretary Kissinger: If our allies let us.

Mr. Rush: Yes. We need clear guidance on FBS and on a test ban for MIRVing MLBMs.

Mr. Clements: We’ve already tried that.

Mr. Rush: But we didn’t offer them anything for it. What can we give? If we have a ban through 1974, it gives us a good base to say that we’re not changing the game until 1975.

Mr. Duckett: You could read encouragement in their testing of a single RV on the SS–X–18. That might be a signal that they would give up MIRV. We shouldn’t ignore it.

Secretary Kissinger: How many tests have they had on the 18?

Mr. Duckett: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: Paul (Nitze), what do you think?

Mr. Nitze: I’m not sure this is a holding position.

Secretary Kissinger: What difference does that make?

Mr. Nitze: I agree we should first make up our minds on the general direction. The most important is FBS versus equal aggregates. We shouldn’t accept either horn of that dilemma. We couldn’t get a treaty through the Congress that included unequal aggregates, nor could we accept destruction of our allies. In 1971 they offered to let us keep FBS for compensation. Now they say equal aggregates for FBS. I think the next play is unequal aggregates.

Mr. Johnson: That is inherent in what they have said.

Mr. Nitze: We want more than equal aggregates—something that contributes to stability. If we can get rid of MIRVs on the large missiles, we’re ahead of the game. And there would be some gain if we could get rid of them on the smaller missiles.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree, but any limits on MIRVs must be by category. We can’t accept MIRVing X number of missiles and leave each country free to choose what they MIRV.

Mr. Johnson: We had been proceeding on that basis in the delegation.

Gen. Rowny: By types or by numbers within types.

Secretary Kissinger: We can accept limitations of MIRVed missiles or say they must exclude certain categories from MIRVing. [1 line not declassified]

[Page 132]

Mr. Duckett: We would always have a doubt about [number not declassified] silos. If they stop testing now, we’d be safe, except for [number not declassified] silos. Otherwise, we would always have a doubt.

Secretary Kissinger: Assuming the existing MLBM silos can’t handle the new missiles?

Mr. Duckett: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: If their flight testing were completed, they would have 30 new missiles unless they modified the silos.

Mr. Duckett: The limit would have to be no silo modification.

Mr. Nitze: There are four general principles: 1) no unequal num-bers of throw-weight of MIRVs; 2) handle MIRVing of missiles by category; 3) it is more advantageous to stop MIRVing on the biggest missiles; and 4) there would still be some advantage to stopping MIRVing on the medium missiles. If you accept those four principles, there are a lot of different ways to handle them.

Secretary Kissinger: We have only [number not declassified] categories to MIRV.

Mr. Johnson: We have the Titans, although we would have to put in a new missile.

Secretary Kissinger: But that’s only [number not declassified] If we started a new program, we wouldn’t hold ourselves to [number not declassified]

Mr. Weiss: We have SLBMs.

Mr. Nitze: You could consider three categories: 1) less than [range of numbers not declassified] which would mean their SS–X–16, SS–6 and SS–8 and our Minuteman; 2) from [range of numbers not declassified] which would include their SS–X–17 and 19 and our Trident; and 3) the heavy category from [range of numbers not declassified]. This way we could make more sense of the discussion. Also, we should not foreclose the mobile option. We could have a throw-weight aggregate. If we won’t accept it unless they include SLBMs, they will want an equivalence factor for our bombers. Say [range of numbers not declassified] for heavy bombers. They would have sacrificed throw-weight in missiles and we in bombers. You might sell that to the Congress.

Secretary Kissinger: You could make throw-weight a political cover for an agreement made for other reasons. That would be fine with me.

Mr. Johnson: It’s a way of getting at the MLBMs. They would have to dismantle some to get to an equal throw-weight aggregate if you include bombers at 5000 pounds.

Secretary Kissinger: We have had many brilliant discussions in this group in the past listing the things we want them to give up. But somehow I believe giving up MLBMs is not their top priority. Every [Page 133] Verification Panel meeting has been a revival meeting to prove how tough we are. I would be delighted to get them to give up MLBMs, but we shouldn’t do it piecemeal. We should put together an approach that reflects our thinking. What are we willing to give up to get an agreement?

Dr. Ikle: We do not necessarily have to fix throw-weight at the lower levels. If there is freedom to mix, we can move around within the next 10 or 15 years. We can change bombers to missiles if that seems desirable.

Secretary Kissinger: What are we willing to pay? The MLBM MIRV issue is very time-sensitive. Suppose we should want to break this situation out. What would we be willing to pay to keep them from testing MIRVs while an agreement is being negotiated?

Mr. Rush: We could also discontinue testing MIRVing of Trident during this period.

Secretary Kissinger: We have two restraints on the SS–X–18: 1) stop testing immediately; and 2) prohibit silo modification. If they agree to prohibit silo modification we can be reasonably confident the SS–X–18 wouldn’t be MIRVed.

Mr. Colby: That’s a judgment.

Mr. Duckett: We would want some additional restraints, if possible—the number of tests per year, for example.

Secretary Kissinger: If you think it is urgent, we have to have a quid pro quo for the X–18 testing program. If we can rely on silo modification, we would wrap up the MLBMs in a package with throw-weight or other things.

Mr. Colby: With silo modification, plus one or two other things, we would be reasonably safe.

Secretary Kissinger: What could we propose of a temporary nature to stop the X–18 MIRV testing program while the rest of the program is being negotiated?

Mr. Rush: Stopping testing of Trident for 1974 means nothing.

Mr. Clements: Right.

Secretary Kissinger: But the Navy would leak they hadn’t intended to test it.

Mr. Johnson: We might give up MIRV on Trident for MLBM. I’m not suggesting it, though.

Mr. Colby: The Russians would like to get in on our domestic Trident and B–1 argument.

Dr. Ikle: They want to stop the MIRVing of Minuteman.

Secretary Kissinger: Congress is doing that.

[Page 134]

Mr. Weiss: (to Secretary Kissinger) Do you understand that they have already raised the question of inclusion of bombers and FBS in the throw-weight aggregate?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but I’m not opposed. How to set the bomber equivalent becomes a political equivalent. Inclusion of throw-weight is a good way of handling (Senator) Jackson. But there would have to be a prior decision on MLBMs. I have no objection. It’s a good way to handle our domestic situation. It’s not a way of finding a solution, but it gives us a good rationale. We would have to set bomber throw-weight arbitrarily on the basis of a prior agreement on the future of the MLBM. But each country could decide how to mix within their throw-weight.

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified] their X–18 program. It would be dicey, but the Russians may be looking for something like that.

Mr. Johnson: They have laid heavy emphasis [less than 1 line not declassified] in the FBS context. That’s a separable issue, but I’m skeptical whether it would stop their MIRVing the 18.

Dr. Ikle: The timing is awkward. We need a freeze in the next two months, and we couldn’t deal with [less than 1 line not declassified] in that time.

Mr. Clements: I don’t believe they’ll agree not to MIRV the 18.

Mr. Rush: But we should keep this open for the permanent treaty.

Secretary Kissinger: The first thing to decide is if it is worthwhile to make an interim approach on MIRVing the 18. Let’s assemble some quid pro quos for their stopping their test program. It would be dangerous for us to give up a base, which is a permanent thing, for a MIRV test ban, which could be temporary. We need to give up something temporarily or something we were going to give up anyhow.

Mr. Weiss: We would do it in some time frame.

Secretary Kissinger: We could do that in the permanent agreement.

Mr. Nitze: What if we agreed to count FBS at 150% of the aggregate?

Mr. Rush: That wouldn’t stop testing.

Mr. Clements: Are we going to have a new agreement or build on the interim agreement?

Secretary Kissinger: If we have equal aggregates, we’re not building on the interim agreement. I think we should stop these theological debates and develop an American position. We should also decide whether we want a permanent agreement or a 10 or 15 year agreement. Paul (Nitze), what do you think?

Mr. Nitze: I’d rather have a five-year additional agreement, to carry us from 1977 to 1982, than a permanent agreement if it is not fully equal.

[Page 135]

Dr. Ikle: How about verifiability?

Mr. Johnson: I don’t think we face the issue of building on the interim agreement.

Secretary Kissinger: When I think of Trident it’s one thing to give it up for ten years and another to give it up permanently. It would be possible to have an interim agreement—five or seven years—which fixed some numbers of the permanent agreement but delayed on some. Something like that would be okay for ten years, but would be dangerous if it were permanent. Let’s have the Working Group in the next two or three weeks develop a systematic range of choices: 1) How can we handle MLBM MIRV testing in the short term: 2) How can it be handled in a permanent agreement, and what other elements would be required? It would be easier to handle this by a clear statement to the Soviets on our whole position rather than trying to break out the MIRVs. 3) What would a new agreement look like? Then we can decide how to proceed: whether to take an extreme position, or a realistic position plus 10%.

Mr. Johnson: A lot of our discussions get confused between our starting point and our ending point. Any solution will be phased over a period of time. We have to consider what the situation is at the beginning and what we should aim for over a period of time.

Secretary Kissinger: The preeminent problem is to get our government to agree on what we really want. We’re not near any clear consensus. Equal aggregates are too easy. They’re no longer the key issue in a MIRVed world. Our aggregates are going down.

Dr. Ikle: They’re going up with Trident.

Secretary Kissinger: Equal aggregates are the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

Gen. Rowny: The JCS don’t see anything they would pay for an MLBM MIRV testing agreement that would be worth it.

Mr. Rush: We have to look at it as a whole. We should take the various segments and decide what we would be willing to give.

Mr. Colby: The Russians want most to get FBS.

Mr. Rush: What are our priorities?

Secretary Kissinger: We’re hipped on NATO and on MLBMs and on ten other things. I want to see an integrated scheme that we could put forward in good conscience as a contribution to stability.

Mr. Nitze: That’s what we tried to do in the counter-draft that we sent you.

Secretary Kissinger: And I don’t want to provide a check list for opponents if there is any deviation from our extreme position in the agreement. That would just give them examples of how we had caved.

[Page 136]

Mr. Nitze: That’s a minor problem.

Secretary Kissinger: No, it’s a significant problem.

Mr. Rush: They have taken an extreme position. We could show what they gave up.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s first work out what we really want.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–108, Verification Panel Minutes, Originals, 3/15/72 to 6/4/74 [3 of 5]. Top Secret; Nodis; Codeword. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. In the Summary of Conclusions, not printed, the Panel agreed that the “Working Group will examine the entire verification question with regard to MIRVs” and “develop a range of choices for a new U.S. position, to include ways of handling MLBM MIRV testing in the short term and in a permanent agreement, and other elements [that] might be required.”
  2. See Document 40.