48. Memorandum From Jan Lodal of the National Security Council Staff and the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Answers to Three Soviet Questions on MIRVs

On January 22 Dobrynin gave you three questions (Tab B).2 A proposed written response is at Tab A. You will note that the response is essentially confined to the questions raised by the Soviets and does not attempt to elaborate on various implications of the equal MIRV throw weight approach such as the resulting number of warheads, overall Soviet numerical advantages, etc. In other words, it is a relatively simple response to the direct questions posed by the Soviets.


That you review the proposed written response to Dobrynin and, if it is satisfactory, provide it either to him or to Gromyko at the time of the latter’s visit here.

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Tab A

Draft Response to the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)3


In response to the three questions which have been raised, the U.S. objective is to develop a concept for qualitative limitations which will provide equality for each side. The concept discussed by Secretary Kissinger with Minister Gromyko is that each side should have the right to the same aggregate throw weight for ICBMs with MIRVs.4 Within this equal level, each side would be able to deploy a specified number of ICBMs with MIRVs; the sum total (aggregate) throw weight of these ICBMs could not exceed the agreed level.

1. Because the Soviet ICBMs with MIRVs are larger and have greater throw weight than the U.S. Minuteman III MIRV ICBM, the number of ICBMs with MIRVs on each side would not be the same, i.e., the U.S. number would be larger. Thus, the difference in the number of ICBMs with MIRVs would not result from a difference in rights, but from the fact that the Soviet side is developing larger ICBMs.

2. The approach of equal aggregate throw weight for both sides mentioned by Secretary Kissinger would apply only to deployment of ICBMs with a demonstrated capability to carry MIRVs, not to all ICBMs.

3. We do not exclude also seeking a mutually acceptable concept for dealing with SLBMs and their MIRVs. But we believe that our ICBM MIRV limitation is more urgent and should be given priority.

Tab B

Questions From the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)5

Washington, January 22, 1974.


1) What is meant in the suggestion—a right for the U.S. to have a greater number of MIRV’s or a greater number of missiles with MIRV (the latter was the case earlier).

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2) To establish equal aggregate throw weight—does it cover only missiles with MIRV or all missiles of each side (the latter was the case in the U.S. position in Geneva, but in the last talk with Minister A.A. Gromyko Secretary H. Kissinger mentioned “the throw weight of MIRVs”).

3) Is it suggested to put limitations on MIRVs only for land-based ICBMs as it was proposed by the U.S. side earlier, or is it now suggested to have MIRV limitations also for SLBMs?

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Lot File 81D286, SALT, December 1973–February 1974. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for urgent action. Hyland concurred with this memorandum. Kissinger wrote at the bottom of the page: “OK, Put in a letter for channel.”
  2. No further record of a meeting between Kissinger and Dobrynin on January 22 has been found. According to a transcript of a telephone conversation, January 21, 5:45 p.m., the two men agreed to speak on the telephone the next day but no mention of SALT was made at that time. (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations)
  3. No classification marking.
  4. See Document 44.
  5. No classification marking. A handwritten note reads: “Dobrynin to HAK Jan. 22, p.m.”