46. Minutes of a Meeting of the Verification Panel1


  • SALT


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


It was agreed that:

1) Ambassador Johnson would prepare a comprehensive proposal on equal aggregates with reductions over a ten year period.

2) the Working Group will prepare a proposal on MIRV throw-weight which could be translated into specific missile programs.

3) the Verification Panel will meet again to consider the proposals and the issue will be raised with the President in an NSC meeting prior to the resumption of the Geneva talks.

[Omitted here are Duckett’s briefing and discussion of it.]

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t stop them from firing until we can approach them with some concept. They won’t give us a test ban for nothing. By April 1 we must be in a position to float a test ban. Give or take three weeks, they must have some idea of where we are going. If [Page 154] Alex (Johnson) goes back and tells them we would like them to stop testing the –17 and –18, it would be a waste of time.

Mr. Johnson: I agree. If I had some larger, more comprehensive package, then said it . . .

Secretary Kissinger: Yes; to get them to stop testing, we must have some sort of a package.

Dr. Ikle: Or at least some comprehensive approach.

Secretary Kissinger: We need to relook at our proposal. I think we all agree that we will have to make a comprehensive proposal. We might break out MIRV limits later. Within this framework, we should have a different MIRV package. We have a comprehensive proposal on the table. Alex (Johnson) added equal aggregates and reductions over a 10-year period. But under this, we give up nothing.

Mr. Schlesinger: That’s not true. Our program is unstructured. We can go to [less than 1 line not declassified] The Russians can’t assume that we will drop the B–52s and Polaris. Our number looks like [less than 1 line not declassified] to them.

Secretary Kissinger: Alex’s plan started with 2350 equal aggregates and went to 2000 in ten years. That would be a modification of our existing proposal in terms of aggregates. If we add MIRV, we could agree to do it in terms of throw-weight.

Mr. Johnson: We might do it in numbers of types of missiles that reach certain throw-weight limits. We could talk about overall aggregate throw-weight.

Secretary Kissinger: My experience with the Russians is that the basic decision that we have to make is on a concept. After that, we can play with the numbers. I have no doubt we can express equal throw-weight in some numerical limits.

Mr. Schlesinger: Alex is suggesting we strengthen the equal MIRV throw-weight approach by dealing with specific classes.

Mr. Johnson: I agree we should start with the concept of equal throw-weight, but we could express it by category.

Mr. Schlesinger: It’s a reinforcing mechanism.

Secretary Kissinger: The advantage of expressing it in throw-weight is that inequality of numbers would be the choice of the country concerned. We would not be structuring the other guy’s force and he wouldn’t be structuring ours.

Dr. Ikle: The choice would still be open for them.

Secretary Kissinger: There are two approaches. We could approach it by keeping SLBMs unconstrained. We could begin with the ICBM proposal. They will scream about SLBMs. We say “fine”, and include them as a concession. Intellectually I am sure we will wind up with SLBM constraints. How we do it is a negotiating question.

[Page 155]

Mr. Johnson: My bias would be to include SLBMs initially.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s a negotiating question. I think we should accept the judgment of the delegation on that.

Mr. Johnson: I have no problem in expressing it in terms of overall throw-weight limits. We might end by writing it in terms of categories.

Mr. Rush: Are you going for equal throw-weight and equal MIRV throw-weight?

Secretary Kissinger: Overall throw-weight just gets into a great can of worms.

Mr. Johnson: Only MIRV throw-weight. I would be inclined to start with Option B.

Secretary Kissinger: And then fall back to D? That would mean a unilateral MLBM MIRV ban by the Soviets would have been better off with more

Mr. Johnson: I would start with B, then move toward something like Option C. That’s the State Department proposal, although I have some views on details.

Secretary Kissinger: Equal MIRV throw-weight and equal MIRV launcher improvements.

Mr. Weiss: If we permit them to have the –19, they would have to let us have a –19.

Secretary Kissinger: In other words, let them MIRV what they have in turn for MIRVing something we don’t have.

Mr. Weiss: It wouldn’t be that hard on us. We have the SLBMs.

Secretary Kissinger: If we have equal launchers and freedom to mix, they can give up a smaller for a larger missile. If we have throw-weight limits, there is nothing to keep you from building larger missiles.

Mr. Johnson: If we lump the ICBMs together in a single aggregate, we can reach close to their figure with SLBMs. With [number not declassified] Minutemen, [number not declassified] Poseidon and Trident I we can reach pretty much equal aggregates in launchers and throw-weight.

Dr. Ikle: Provided the Soviet MIRVed SLBMs are light.

Secretary Kissinger: Unequal MIRVed missiles are good. That is their problem.

Mr. Schlesinger: The breaking point on MIRVing is when an RV becomes a Minuteman killer. We might start by pushing the light missiles.

Secretary Kissinger: If they have a big MIRV test program on the –17, –19 and –18, and we say they can deploy only on the –16, on which they have had no tests of MIRVs, they will just laugh at us. Our pro [Page 156] posal tells them to stop the –17 and –18. We have to decide what price we are willing to pay for a ban on the –18. [3½ lines not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: We need: 1) a redefinition of our comprehensive proposal—equal aggregates of 2350 with reductions to 2000 over a ten-year period; 2) a definition of throw-weight limits by specific weight which could be translated into specific programs; 3) what this does to specific missile types. Should we push for a test ban on the –17 and/or the –19? Or should we let them run free to use up throw-weight. It depends on the break-out problem and on silo modification. We need this quickly. Can we get it within a week? Alex, can you work up your proposal?

Mr. Johnson: Yes.

Mr. Schlesinger: A proposal on MIRV throw-weight?

Mr. Johnson: Designed to achieve equal throw-weight, MIRVed and non-MIRVed through elimination of the heavies. If we are prepared to accept asymmetry of non-MIRVed throw-weight, we can modify it.

Mr. Schlesinger: We have two objectives: our short range objective is to cut off MIRV deployment in a significant way; our long-range objective is equally weighted aggregates. To the extent that we achieve the former without compromising the latter, okay. But we will have to proceed very carefully not to compromise equal weighted aggregates.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Schlesinger) If you are right about what we can do with the Congress on new programs, we can use bomber throw-weight with freedom to mix or we can maintain our options to push up our throw-weight by not saying anything.

Dr. Ikle: We may want throw-weight restrictions on single RVs. We wouldn’t want 500 more SS–9s.

Dr. Wikner: If all 300 –19s were MIRVed, we don’t want 600 single –19s in other silos.

Secretary Kissinger: We cannot permit single warhead versions of MIRV-tested missiles. If we have high confidence that silo modifications can be observed, it depends on how we want to play testing. If we let them complete their tests on the –17, we have to be brutal on silo modification. If we can stop testing of the –17s, we can be more permissive on silo modification. The III G would have to be limited to a number agreed on in the MIRV agreement. Let’s have the Working Group go through the other business and have Alex (Johnson) come up with a comprehensive proposal. We’ll meet again a week from tomorrow. We should also have an NSC meeting. These things should go before the President.

[Page 157]

Mr. Johnson: On non-MIRVed throw-weight, we should start with something that would accommodate overall throw-weight, with our having the same rights.

Secretary Kissinger: Everyone has his pet theories, but we have to decide what will bring them to a point where something can be negotiated. We should strip away all these cute variations and get down to fundamentals. Start with equal aggregates, with reductions from 2350 to 2000 over ten years.

Mr. Schlesinger: It’s a question of the price we pay. U.S. bargaining power is not in Trident or B–1. U.S. bargaining power lies in stirring up the American people and persuading the Soviets that we insist on essential equivalence. If they won’t bargain, we will start a major program, which will lead to instability and will end détente. That is the true bargaining power of the U.S.

Secretary Kissinger: If they believe it. If we can get more in the Defense budget and show them programs that really worry them. If Congress doesn’t strip away the fruits of détente. At present, Congress is stripping away any incentive toward détente. If we can show the Soviets the fruits of détente, and the dangers of proceeding otherwise, okay.

Mr. Weiss: We can’t expect Congressional support in the present environment, but if we stir up the people . . .

Secretary Kissinger: What the hell have the Soviets gotten out of détente? If I were sitting in the Politburo I could make a devastating case against Brezhnev and détente.

Mr. Weiss: But you could argue that we could get a larger defense budget in a different environment.

Mr. Schlesinger: If they are willing to bargain, they can get stability.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s a question of whether they see benefits from détente. Congress has to give us the fruits of détente.

Mr. Schlesinger: (Senator) Jackson deprives you of the carrot and supports the stick. Others deprive you of the stick and support the carrot. Some deprive you of both.

Secretary Kissinger: This has been a good meeting. That was a superb briefing, Carl (Duckett).

  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 [4 of 5]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.