5. Note From the United States to the Soviet Union1

We have reviewed the Soviet communication of October 24,2 concerning the strategic arms limitation talks. We are in agreement that the first session should be preparatory in nature and should develop a working program for the next sessions. The American delegation will [Page 27] be instructed to proceed along this line and will place certain items on a work program for further discussion. In doing so we will accept the points made by the Soviet side as issues for the program.

We apparently agree that the Standing Consultative Commission should be established as soon as possible and the regulations for its operation developed.

We also agree that more complete measures for limiting strategic offensive arms should be considered in connection with moving from the Interim Agreement to a permanent agreement.

On the third point raised by the Soviet side—exercising restraint in areas not covered by the agreement as well as questions related to starting major new programs—these would also be appropriate subjects for discussion.

In considering the Interim Agreement, there seems to be agreement that both sides consider it a point of departure. The Soviet side also notes certain measures to be negotiated in the next phase:

—“Withdrawal of advanced based nuclear means along with the liquidation of appropriate bases;

—Liquidation of ballistic missile submarine bases on the territory of third countries and limitation on the operating of such submarines;

—Limitations with regard to strategic air forces.”

As noted in our earlier communication on elements of a permanent agreement, the US approaches the negotiations from a different perspective. We believe the goal of the permanent agreement should be to establish a high order of equivalence in the aggregate numbers and overall capabilities of the main strategic systems—ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers. In this context, ICBMs have unique capabilities that make equality an essential feature of an agreement.

The question remains of how equivalence is to be measured and how to reach equitable levels for both sides. In our view the throw weight of land-based ICBMs is the critical feature that determines the capabilities of the entire system. Equal numbers and a limit on throw weight would be a major contribution to strategic stability on a long-term basis.

At the same time, reducing to a mutually agreeable level, if accomplished over a specified period of time, would be a more stabilizing approach to dealing with the asymmetries on both sides.

In our view the foregoing considerations could be set alongside of the Soviet concerns and in this manner a framework for negotiation might be established.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 498, President’s Trip Files, Exchange of Notes Between Dobrynin and Kissinger, Vol. 4. No classification marking. A note on the first page reads: “Handed by K to D 12:30 pm, Tues, 11/14/72.”
  2. Document 1.